Israel tells its citizens to avoid Istanbul and warns Iran not to harm them

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid attends a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on May 15, 2022. Abir Sultan/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

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JERUSALEM, June 13 (Reuters) – Israel raised its Istanbul travel warning to the highest level on Monday over what it said was a threat of Iranian attempts to kill or kidnap Israelis vacationing in Turkey.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said a “tremendous effort” by Israeli security forces had saved “Israeli lives in recent weeks”, and thanked the Turkish government for its contribution.

He gave no further details. An Israeli security official told Reuters that Turkey had arrested several suspected “agents” of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

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Turkish officials and the Iranian Embassy in Ankara did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“We call on Israelis not to fly to Istanbul – and if you don’t have a vital reason, don’t fly to Turkey. If you are already in Istanbul, return to Israel as soon as possible,” Lapid said in a statement. TV statement.

“These terrorist threats target Israelis on vacation. They randomly but deliberately select Israeli citizens with a view to kidnapping or murdering them,” he said.

“I want, from here, to deliver a message to the Iranians as well. Anyone who harms the Israelis will not get away with it. Israel’s long arm will have them no matter where they are.”

Tehran has sworn to retaliate against Israel, which it accuses of having killed Hassan Sayad Khodai, a colonel in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on May 22, shot dead at the wheel of his car by two people on motorcycles. Read more

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility, its usual policy regarding the assassination charges. He accused Khodai of plotting attacks against his citizens around the world.

Turkey is a popular tourist destination for Israelis. The two countries have mended ties after more than a decade of strained relations. Read more

The enhanced advisory does not apply to Israelis on flights with a stopover in Istanbul “as long as they do not leave the airport”, Israel’s National Security Council said in a statement.

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Additional reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Written by Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Jon Boyle and Deepa Babington

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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