Israel sharpens Turkey travel warning over ‘immediate threats’

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Turkish police securing the central part of the city in Istanbul, March 19, 2016. (Burak Kara/Getty Images)

JERUSALEM – Israel Friday reissued and accentuated a warning to its citizens to avoid Turkey over the “immediate risks” of attacks, weeks after three Israelis were killed in an Istanbul suicide bombing.

“Following a situational assessment, we are reiterating and sharpening the high level of threat in Turkey,” the counter terrorism bureau said.

Its warning comes hours after the Turkish foreign ministry announced “progress towards finalising the agreement” on restoring ties with Israel, a day after both sides held talks in London.

“There are immediate risks of attacks being carried out in the country, and we stress the threat applies to all tourism sites in Turkey,” Israel’s counter terrorism bureau said in a statement.

It called on all Israelis to avoid visiting Turkey and urged Israeli tourists there to leave “as soon as possible”, defining the threat as level 2 — “concrete and high” — the same as in its previous warning from March 28.

Three Israelis and an Iranian were killed and 39 people wounded when a man blew himself up on Istiklal Caddesi, a famous shopping street in the heart of Turkey’s largest city, on March 19.

Turkey said the bomber had links to the Islamic State group, and on Tuesday Israel’s defence ministry said he had most likely targeted the Israelis deliberately.

Tens of thousands of Israelis visit nearby Turkey each year despite strained diplomatic relations between the two countries.

On March 29, President Reuven Rivlin expressed deep concern over a report that ISIS was planning to attack Jewish schoolchildren in Turkey.

NATO member Turkey was a key regional ally of Israel until the two cut ties in 2010 over the deadly storming by Israeli commandos of a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza, which left 10 Turkish activists dead.

After years of bitter accusations and rhetoric the two sides held secret talks in December on a rapprochement, with another round taking place in February in Geneva.

Source: AFP

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