Israel on Monday warned its citizens against “non-essential” travel to Turkey following a terrorist attack in Istanbul which took the lives of six people and injured many more.
“This incident illustrates the danger to Israelis visiting/staying in the country,” Israel’s National Security Council (NSC) cautioned in a statement.
The NSC reiterated Israel’s level 3 travel warning — an intermediate threat — for Turkey, which means Israelis should “avoid non-essential travel to the country.”
Over the weekend , Turkish forces arrested a Syrian woman suspected of placing a bomb that exploded on a busy pedestrian avenue close to Taksim Square in central Istanbul on Sunday. Turkish officials blamed the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia for the blast.
The Israeli government on Sunday asked Israeli tourists in Istanbul, a popular holiday destination, to stay in their hotel rooms until further notice. On Monday, the government lifted the directive but recommended Israelis in Turkey “maintain heightened awareness in public places” and “exercise heightened caution.”
In footage taken by security cameras from the scene, two Israeli tourists, Or Atedgi and Natali Swissa, were spotted walking close to the suspected female terrorist detonating the bomb.
“We were saved by a miracle, there is no other way of putting it,” Suissa told the Israeli news portal Ynet. “We walked around Taksim Square, went in and out of shops doing some shopping.”
The two Israelis said that the explosion itself happened just a few meters away from them.
“Everything was normal, the street was very busy,” Suissa recounted. “As we came out from one of the shops, we heard a huge explosion and saw a large fire mushroom cloud.”
On behalf of the Israeli government, outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid, send his condolences to the people of Turkey following the “heinous terrorist attack in Istanbul.”
“I also send strength to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Turkish government,” Lapid said in a statement. “Together, we will forcefully fight terror everywhere it rears its head.”
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Author: Sharon Wrobel
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