Israel’s National Security Council on Tuesday lowered its travel warning for Istanbul from the highest level, after the government said Iranian assassination plots targeting Israelis in the city had been thwarted.
“I’d like to thank our security forces along with the Turkish security forces, who over the past months and weeks acted to prevent attacks on Israelis in Istanbul and Turkey,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.
Israel on June 13 had urged its citizens to immediately leave Istanbul because of the “real and immediate danger” coming from Iranian operatives, raising the travel warning on the Turkish city to four on a four-point scale.
A flurry of reports provided details of Iranian agents setting up to target Israeli tourists, and of Turkey detaining people involved in the plots.
On Thursday, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid visited Ankara, thanking Turkey for its “professional and coordinated activity” in preventing the attacks.
Iran meanwhile dismissed as “ridiculous” the Israeli allegations, with foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh saying they were “part of a pre-designed plot to destroy relations between the two Muslim countries”.
Iran and Israel have been engaged in a years-long shadow war but tensions have ratcheted up following a string of high-profile incidents Tehran has blamed on Israel.
“Our actions were successful and safeguarded human life, we are gradually returning to routine,” Bennett said, thanking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “and his people for their cooperation in thwarting attacks on Israelis in Turkey”.
Israel’s National Security Council warned “the Iranian motivation is still high”.
It estimated that there were “still efforts to build infrastructures” and “locate potential Israeli and Jewish targets”, calling on Israelis to still “avoid non-essential travel to Turkey”.
Turkey’s relations with Israel have been improving after years of tensions and tourism is central to the two countries’ economic ties.