Senior Foreign Ministry official Dore Gold has cut short his visit to the United States and is traveling to Turkey following the terror attack that killed three Israelis on Saturday morning in Istanbul.
Three Israelis and an Iranian were killed along with the terrorist; 39 people were wounded, including 11 Israelis.
Gold was in the U.S. to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference.
Instead, he will visit wounded Israeli citizens who are hospitalized in Istanbul, and then meet with Turkish officials, according to Turkish media.
Numerous foreign consulates are located along Istiklal Street and around the immediate area where the attack took place.
This past Wednesday Germany closed its consulate and school in Istanbul due to credible security threats, according to the Turkish Daily Sabah newspaper.
The U.S. State Department condemned the attack in a statement released by spokesperson John Kirby.
“The United States strongly condemns the terrorist attack today on Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of those killed and our hopes for a quick recovery for those wounded,” the statement read.
“We will remain in close touch with Turkish authorities during the investigation. The United States stands in solidarity with our NATO Ally Turkey in combating the common threat of terrorism.
“This vicious attack is the latest in a series of indefensible violence targeting innocent people throughout Turkey – Turkish citizens and international visitors alike. These acts of terrorism only reinforce our determination to support all those across the region working to promote peace and reconciliation,” the statement said.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also condemned the attack in a written statement saying there can be no justification for terrorism. He said, “NATO allies stand united with Turkey, determined to fight against terrorism.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault also condemned the attack.
“I strongly condemn this despicable and cowardly act that has caused the death of several people,” Ayrault said in a statement, adding Paris stands in solidarity with Turkey.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) meanwhile has launched disciplinary proceedings against its media director and women’s bureau chief Irem Aktas, who tweeted on Saturday after the Istanbul suicide bombing, “Let the wounded Israeli citizens be worse, I wish they all died.”
Hatice Yücel, who heads Istanbul’s Eyüp district women’s branch, tweeted that the comments of party member Irem Aktas did not reflect AKP’s viewpoint. The tweet was deleted and Aktas’ social media accounts were shut down. The disciplinary proceedings against Aktas could result in her dismissal from the party, Yücel added.
Hana Levi Julian