Turkey taking necessary security measures, Ankara says to Israel
Turkey is taking necessary security measures concerning the fight against terrorism, Ankara said on June 14 in response to Israel raising its travel advisory to the highest level because of what it said was a threat of Iranian attempts to kill or abduct Israelis vacationing in Turkey.
Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç recalled that in recent days, it is observed that “some countries” issue travel advisory regarding their citizens in Turkey.
“These travel warnings are considered to be related to different international developments and motives. In fact, our relevant authorities are taking all the necessary security measures within the framework of our cooperation mechanisms regarding fight against terrorism,” Bilgiç said in a written statement.
It is a fact that Turkey is a “safe” country and continues to fight against terrorism in the “most effective” way through domestic and cross-border operations, he said, adding that the “successful” results in fight against terrorism can be seen clearly.
“In this context, while our country maintains its fight against terrorism without any discrimination among terrorist organizations, we also contribute to the security of the international community. This fact is also known and commended by the international community,” the statement read.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on June 13 urged citizens in Turkey to leave “as soon as possible” over threats that Iranian operatives are actively planning attacks on Israelis in Istanbul.
The stark warning comes amid the latest surge in tensions between bitter rivals Iran and Israel, with Tehran blaming the Jewish state for a series of attacks on its nuclear and military infrastructure not only inside Iran but also inside Syria. Lapid made no mention of any alleged Israeli operations against Iranian targets.
But, he said, Israelis in Turkey faced “a real and immediate danger” from Iranian agents, citing “several Iranian attempts at carrying out terror attacks against Israelis on holiday in Istanbul.”
“If you are already in Istanbul, return to Israel as soon as possible,” Lapid said in a public warning.
“If you have planned a flight to Istanbul, cancel it. No vacation is worth your life,” he added during a meeting with lawmakers from his Yesh Atid party. “Do not fly to Turkey at all” unless such travel is “essential,” the foreign minister urged Israelis.
Iran and Israel have been engaged in a years-long shadow war, but tensions have ratcheted up following a string of high-profile incidents Tehran has blamed on Israel. The Islamic republic claimed Israel was responsible for killing Revolutionary Guards Colonel Sayyad Khodai, who was shot dead outside his Tehran home on May 22.
Israel was also blamed for air strikes last week on Damascus International Airport, which caused major damage to two runways. Turkey has consistently been a popular holiday destination for Israelis despite more than a decade of diplomatic rupture between the two countries.
Ankara and Israel have mended ties in recent months, with senior Turkish leaders citing the importance of Israel to Turkey’s tourism sector.