Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called on Monday, June 13, his nationals who are in Turkey to leave ” as soon as possible “ this country for fear of Iranian attacks. “Following a series of attempted Iranian terrorist attacks in recent weeks against Israelis vacationing in Istanbul, we call on Israelis not to fly to Istanbul and, (…) if you are already in Istanbul, return to Israel as soon as possible”Mr. Lapid said on Twitter.
In recent weeks, the Israeli press has reported on attempted attacks against Israelis in Turkey, citing sources who requested anonymity. These attacks would have been thwarted thanks to a collaboration between Israeli and Turkish security services, the two countries having strengthened their relations in recent months.
Evoking a “real and immediate danger of assassination and kidnapping”Mr. Lapid asserted that “the lives of several Israelis have been saved”. “I would like to thank the Turkish government for its efforts to protect the lives of Israeli citizens”he said, while warning Iran that “Whoever harms Israelis will pay the price, we will hunt them down no matter where they are”.
His enemy number one
Israel, which sees Iran as its number one enemy, opposes a relaunch of the 2015 international Iran nuclear deal – supposed to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring the atomic bomb in exchange for the lifting of sanctions suffocating its economy – from which the United States withdrew in 2018.
Considered by experts to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, Israel fears, among other things, that this agreement will make it possible to replenish the coffers of Iran which could thus increase, according to Israeli officials, its aid to regional allies such as the Lebanese Hezbollah or Palestinian Hamas, enemies of the Jewish state.
Iran and Israel are also engaged in a “Shadow War” with cyberattacks, attacks at sea and accusations of assassination. On May 22, Sayyad Khodai, a tenor from the Quds Force – the unit responsible for external operations within the Iranian Revolutionary Guards – was shot dead near Tehran. Iranian authorities accused Israel of being behind the murder and vowed revenge.
Israel has also multiplied, in recent years, the strikes against alleged positions of Iran in neighboring Syria, the Israeli army notably accusing Tehran of transferring military equipment via Syrian soil, to its Lebanese ally Hezbollah, in order to allow it to inflate its arsenal of precision missiles.
Last Friday, Israeli aircraft bombed Damascus airport, damaging a runway, which has since been shut down. In the aftermath of this strike, the Israeli press accused Iran and Hezbollah of having recently started circulating military equipment on commercial flights between Tehran and Damascus, in order to evade Israeli strikes in Syria.