Israel’s National Security Council warned its citizens on Sunday against traveling to Turkey – and those already there were urged to leave immediately.
Citing a “high level threat” the NSC warned “there are immediate risks of terrorist attacks,” adding that the threat level is valid for “all tourist centers in the country.”
The national security body told Israelis to “avoid visits to the country and to leave as soon as possible.” Israeli tourists already in the country were asked to refrain from visiting “crowded tourist sites,” to obey the instructions of local security officials and the media, and “leave as soon as possible.”
Family members of Israeli tourists already in Turkey were urged to “update them on the refinement of the travel warning,” following the arrest last week in Istanbul of two Israeli tourists — both Egged bus drivers living in Modi’in — on charges of espionage after they were seen photographing the presidential palace.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry sent Consular Division head Rina Djerassi to Istanbul on Monday to support the efforts to free Mordy and Natali Oaknin. This past weekend, their remand in custody was extended 20 days by Turkish authorities.
“The efforts to release the couple continue at all levels,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Oaknins shot their photo of the presidential residence while standing in the Camilca Tower, a new structure that is said to be the tallest in Europe. According to The Jerusalem Post, a waitress overheard them talking about the photo and reported them to police.
The couple’s Israeli attorney, Nir Yaslovitzh, told Ynet that his Turkish partner has visited the couple and said they are being treated “appropriately” and are in good condition.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an open supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliate, Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization, and provides funding to anti-Israel organizations in Jerusalem.
Turkey is continuing to tighten its ties with the mullah-run Iranian government. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in Tehran during a joint news conference Monday with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian that Turkey wants to “improve our deep-rooted relations with Iran, and our cooperation in other global issues as well in our region.”