Israel advises citizens to leave Turkey citing attack risk
JERUSALEM – Agence France-Presse
REUTERS photoIsrael on March 28 advised its citizens to leave Turkey, citing the potential for further jihadist attacks after three Israelis were among four people killed in a March 19 suicide bombing in Istanbul.
“It has been decided to upgrade the existing travel warning vis-a-vis Turkey from a basic concrete threat to a high concrete threat, and to reiterate our recommendation to the public to avoid visiting the country and - for Israelis currently in Turkey - to leave as soon as possible,” a government statement said.
The statement said the bombing highlighted the threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) “against tourist targets throughout Turkey and proves high capabilities of carrying out further attacks.”
“Terrorist infrastructures in Turkey continue to advance additional attacks against tourist targets - including Israeli tourists - throughout the country,” it said.
Tens of thousands of Israelis visit Turkey each year, despite strained diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Three Israelis and an Iranian were killed and 39 people wounded when a man blew himself up on the central İstiklal Avenue, a famous shopping street in the heart of Turkey’s biggest city, on March 19.
The Turkish government said the bomber had links to ISIL.
Commenting on Israel’s updated travel warning for Turkey, Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said March 28 that countries would make such evaluations when attacks happened, but these warnings should not be made “in a way that would make terrorists happy.”
“Attitudes in a way in that would make terrorists happy, such as locking up and temporarily suspending life, should be avoided. This is valid for all countries, I’m not saying this just in the context of Israel,” said Kalın at a press conference in Ankara.
“This is one of the things terrorism wants to do in general: Temporarily suspend and freeze life and set the agenda. This should not be permitted. It would only make terrorists happy,” he added.
An Israeli diplomatic source told the Hürriyet Daily News that the decision was taken after the Turkish police issued a warning on May 27 that foreign tourists, as well as non-Muslim places of worship, could be targeted by ISIL over the Easter period. Underlining that the decision to upgrade Israel’s travel warning to Turkey was “limited and temporary,” sources stressed that the Israeli embassy and consulate were open and working despite the warning.