Amid soaring tension between Iran and Israel, the latter has called its citizens in Turkey to leave the country at the earliest and advised its citizen to refrain from visiting Ankara unless and until it is "extremely critical". The statement came amid Iran's threats of response over the assassination of a senior official in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) last week. Iran considers Israel behind the murder of its IRGC commander.
The National Security Council Counter-Terrorism Bureau, in its earlier report, said that Iran might intend to attack Israeli tourists in Ankara, as a "mark of revenge". In the statement, the Security Council further added that Iran has been accusing Israel of the death of an IRGC officer for several weeks. Assessing the death threats, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called on his citizens to return from Turkey and added: "it is a real and immediate danger".
"We call on Israelis not to fly to Istanbul. Unless you have a critical need -- do not fly to Turkey," Lapid said at the start of a meeting of his Yesh Atid party. "If you are already in Istanbul, return to Israel as soon as possible."
According to the minister, the decision has been taken following "a situation assessment". He said the officials found there were several attempts from "Iranian forces" to kidnap or kill Israeli nationals in Turkey. Expressing his gratitude towards the Turkish government, he stated that Ankara is making all efforts to protect the Israeli citizens. Underscoring the importance of tourism for both countries, the Israeli Foreign Minister said it is more important to save lives than to focus on business. Meanwhile, the minister also sent a staunch warning to Iran and said if it tries to harm its citizen in any manner, Israel will not spare them. "Whoever harms Israelis will not be left unharmed. Israel's long arm will get them no matter where they are," said Lapid.
It is worth mentioning that the Israeli warning comes a day after Israeli officials voiced that Turkish authorities had averted an "Iranian plot" to attack Israelis in Turkey last month. However, Tehran did not immediately comment on the Israeli allegations.
Earlier in late May, Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau warned that Tehran might plot to strike Israeli tourists in Istanbul and warned the Israelis against touring the nation. On May 22, Iran had vowed to take revenge of Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, an Islamic Revolution Guards Corps colonel, who was allegedly killed by Israelis. As per multiple media reports, Khodaei was shot and killed by two motorcyclists in the east of Tehran, Iran's capital.