Photo Credit: HLJ
Istanbul

Israel’s National Security Council (NSC) Counter-Terrorism Division, announced Tuesday (June 28) that the travel warning for Istanbul will be lowered back to Level 3, which indicates an intermediate threat.

Several Iranian attempts to attack Israeli citizens in Istanbul were thwarted this past month by a joint effort of the Turkish and Israeli security services and political echelons.

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Turkish security forces tracked down and arrested several Iranian terrorist cells operating under Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and using Turkish nationals to attack Israeli citizens.

“These actions have led to the lowering of the threat level for Israelis in Turkey,” the NSC said.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett issued a statement Tuesday thanking Israeli and Turkey 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.” He also thanked Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “and his people” for their cooperation in thwarting the attacks.

In light of the captures, the NSC updated its travel warning for Istanbul, dropping it to Level 3 — meaning there is an intermediate threat and a concurrent recommendation to avoid non-essential travel to Turkey.

“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 as well,” the agency said.

Given that the Iranian motivation is still high and that the NSC estimates there are still efforts to build infrastructures on the one hand and to locate potential Israeli and Jewish targets on the other, the NSC emphasized the following recommendations:

1. Avoid publicizing travel details on social media before traveling to Turkey or any other country, or photos and visit details in real time.

2. Give hike / trip details (route, lodgings & flights) and means of contact to a family member in Israel (first-degree if possible).

3. Be alert while traveling and pay attention to what is going on around you.

4. Avoid displaying Israeli indicators and do not discuss service in the Israeli security establishment with unknown persons.

5. Avoid the unnecessary divulging of personal details or details about one’s trip to strangers.

6. Avoid contacts with strangers with whom one is not acquainted (this does not apply to service providers but to persons who have no direct connection to your visit).

“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,” the NSC added.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.