Israeli security officials called and directly warned more than 100 Israeli citizens in Turkey that they were in Iran’s crosshairs, and asked them to return, according to a TV report on Monday.
Earlier today, Israel’s National Security Council issued a public travel warning for Turkey, saying there was a concrete threat to Israelis from ‘Iranian terrorists’ there and in countries neighbors.
According to the unsourced Channel 12 report, Iran’s threat to attack Israelis in Turkey is “concrete and immediate… Obviously, there is [an Iranian] infrastructure that has planned to act now.
The Mossad thwarted recent Iranian efforts to target prominent Israelis and Israeli businessmen around the world, according to the report, and after those failures, Iran is now expanding its target to ordinary Israelis in Turkey. A Kan TV report also said Israel feared Iran was targeting ordinary Israeli tourists there.
The alleged Iranian plot is apparently a response to the killing of a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officer last week, which Iran has attributed to Israel.
“For several weeks now, and even more so since Iran blamed Israel for the death of the Revolutionary Guards officer last week, the defense establishment has grown increasingly concerned about Iranian attempts to harm Israeli targets around the world,” the National Security Council said Monday.
Despite the highly erratic recent warnings, the travel advisory for Turkey remained at the same level, three out of four, a “moderate threat”, with recommendations to avoid visiting the country for non-essential reasons. At level four, “high threat”, Israelis are explicitly told not to visit the country and to leave if they are already there. Countries with this warning include Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iran.
According to the NSC, in recent weeks there have been “a number of attempts” by Iranian agents to attack Israeli businessmen and consular personnel, but they have been foiled.
Since the Iranians were unsuccessful in these efforts, they were broadening the target to ordinary Israelis in Turkey, Channel 12 reported.
Israel’s erratic travel warnings against Turkey have apparently irked Ankara, but Turkish officials are hoping public disclosure of Iran’s intentions along with increased efforts to thwart attacks would allow the threat to pass more quickly.
Former national security adviser Giora Eiland told Channel 12 earlier today that the repeated public warnings likely indicated Israeli security services were aware of a specific Iranian plot, rather than acting on the basis for more general assessments.
The National Security Council has recommended that all Israelis in Turkey avoid contact with foreigners; refrain from providing personal information, including military service; make sure they have phone numbers for Israeli legations and emergency services; and not publicly display signs indicating that they are Israeli.
“Israeli citizens should remain vigilant and observe necessary precautions when traveling to any of these countries,” he said.
Iranian authorities have not yet identified any suspects in the murder of Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, even though the incident took place in the heart of one of Tehran’s safest areas, Mohahedin-e Eslam Street, which houses other senior IRGC officials. and his elite Al-Quds force.
Israel, which has not officially commented on the incident, reportedly raised the security alert level at its embassies and consulates around the world, fearing a retaliatory Iranian attack.
An unnamed intelligence official told The New York Times last week that Israel had told US officials it was behind the assassination. A senior Israeli lawmaker denied this.
Khodaei’s assassination was the most publicized killing in Iran since the November 2020 killing of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.