The National Security Council downgraded the travel advisory following the thwarting of several Iranian plots to harm Israelis in Istanbul • Israelis are still to avoid non-essential travel to Turkey.
Israel’s National Security Council on Tuesday lowered its travel warning to Turkey to Level 3, down from Level 4, the highest level. The Level 3 warning represents an “intermediate threat,” according to the NSC’s counter-terrorism division.
The move comes after Turkish and Israeli security forces thwarted several Iranian plots to attack Israeli nationals in Istanbul, the NSC said in a statement.
“The Turkish security forces located and arrested several Iranian terrorist cells, operating under the aegis of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and which made use of Turkish nationals in order to attack Israeli citizens. These actions have led to the lowering of the threat level for Israelis in Turkey,” the statement continued.
The current recommendation to avoid non-essential travel to Turkey remains in place, according to the NSC.
“The NSC recommends that the urgency of travel to Turkey be evaluated in light of the possibility of continued Iranian efforts to carry out attacks there in the future,” it stated.
“Iranian motivation is still high, and the NSC estimates that there are still efforts to build infrastructure on the one hand and to locate potential Israeli and Jewish targets on the other,” it continued. Israelis should avoid publicizing travel details on social media, as well as posting photos, before traveling to Turkey or any other country, it added.
Israeli tourists are also advised to avoid “displaying Israeli indicators” and not to discuss service in the Israeli security establishment with unknown persons, the NSC said. “Should there be new threats that indicate a renewed rise in the threat level, consideration will be given to raising the travel warning to a level that reflects the nature of the threat to Israelis in the country,” said the NSC.
Commenting on the development, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said, “I would like to thank our security forces, together with the Turkish security forces, for their efforts over these last months, and especially in the past few weeks, to thwart attacks on Israelis in Istanbul and the rest of Turkey. Our actions were successful and safeguarded human life. We are gradually returning to routine. I call on Israelis to be alert. I especially thank President Erdogan and his people for their cooperation in thwarting attacks on Israelis in Turkey.”
Caption: Turkish police in Diyarbakır, Turkey, in January 2016.
Credit: Mahmut Bozarslan/Voice of America via Wikimedia Commons.