JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel on Monday urged its citizens to avoid Istanbul or return home if it was already there, toughening a May 30 warning against travel to Turkey amid a threat of Iranian attempts to Kill or kidnap Israelis living on vacation.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said a “huge effort” by the Israeli security forces had “saved Israeli lives in recent weeks” and thanked the Turkish government for their contribution.
He did not give any further details. An Israeli security official told Reuters that Turkey had arrested several suspected Iranian Revolutionary Guard “operatives”.
“We call on Israelis not to fly to Istanbul – and unless you have an important reason, do not fly to Turkey. If you are already in Istanbul, return to Israel as soon as possible,” Lapid told the television statement.
“These terrorist threats are targeting Israelis who are on vacation. They arbitrarily but deliberately select Israeli citizens to kidnap or murder,” he said.
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“I would also like to pass on a message to the Iranians from here. Whoever harms Israelis will not get away with it. Israel’s long arm will get them no matter where they are.”
Tehran has vowed retaliation against Israel, which it blames for the May 22 killing of Hassan Sayad Khodai, a colonel in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, who was shot dead by two people on a motorcycle at the wheel of his car.
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility, its usual policy on murder allegations. She accused Khodai of plotting attacks against their citizens around the world.
Turkey is a popular tourist destination for Israelis. The two countries have repaired ties after more than a decade of strained relations.
(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Jon Boyle)
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