The bodies of three Israelis killed in a suicide bombing in Istanbul on Saturday were loaded on to an IDF airplane Sunday afternoon and taken to Israel, along with several wounded in the attack.
The victims were identified as Yonathan Suher, 40, Simha Dimri, 60, and Avraham Goldman, 69. Suher and Goldman were also named as United States citizens by the State Department.
Eleven more Israelis were hurt in the bombing on Istiklal Caddesi, a bustling two-kilometer-long pedestrian street usually thronged with shoppers, tourists and buskers. Turkish medical officials said that among the Israeli wounded, two were in critical condition, two were in moderate condition and six were lightly injured. The condition of one more injured Israeli was not immediately clear.
Five wounded were transported to Israel on the IDF plane on Sunday, including one woman who was in critical condition.
The families of Dimri, Suher, and Goldman were reportedly flown to Istanbul late Saturday, where officials took them to identify the bodies of their loved ones.
Dimri, a retired kindergarten teacher and grandmother from the southern city of Dimona, was survived by her husband, Avi, who was moderately wounded in the attack, as well as three sons, a daughter and several grandchildren.
Dimri’s sons Nadav and Ben flew to Istanbul late Saturday, joining a Magen David Adom delegation so they could be at their father’s side.
Dimona Mayor Benny Biton said Saturday the Dimris were a well-known family with a long history in the city.
“The city feels the pain and shares the grief of the Dimri family,” Biton said in a statement, saying the Dimris were “well-known as contributors to the needy and to city institutions, including anonymously.”
Suher, a resident of Tel Aviv, was in Istanbul to celebrate his 40th birthday. His wife, Inbal, was one of the two Israelis critically wounded in the attack. He was survived by two children.
Goldman, from Ramat Hasharon, was a Jerusalem tour guide, specializing in VIP trips to the city. He was survived by his wife, Nitza, his three children, and eight grandchildren.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vowed to track down those responsible for the attack.
“We will fight with determination and perseverance until all forms of terrorism are eradicated,” Davutoglu said in a statement Saturday.
Davutoglu also offered his condolences to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the death of the three Israelis.
“I want to express my condolences to the families of Israeli citizens who lost their lives in the despicable attack and to the people of Israel, and I wish the injured a speedy recovery,” Davutoglu said. “The attack shows us again that the international community must fight aggressively against the lowly goals of terrorist organizations.”
In all, at least four people were killed and 36 injured in the attack. A fourth victim killed in the attack was identified by Turkish officials as Iranian national Ali Reza Razmhah.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but pro-government media blamed it on the Islamic State group, which has been accused of several attacks in Turkey including a deadly suicide bombing near the Blue Mosque in January.
In televised comments after an emergency meeting in Jerusalem Saturday night, Netanyahu said officials were investigating whether Israelis had been specifically targeted in the bombing, and said intelligence pointed to it having been an Islamic State attack.
The attack was the sixth major terror bombing in Turkey since July. Over 200 people have been killed in the terror wave.
IDF medical and rescue teams landed in Turkey Sunday in order to treat several Israelis injured in the attack, and transport the wounded and the bodies of those killed back to their home country.
“Israeli diplomats in Turkey worked all night to prepare the ground for the arrival of the IDF teams, treat the wounded, and coordinate with the authorities in Turkey,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday morning.
Five of the Israelis who were lightly wounded in the attack were already returned to Israel in two flights overnight Sunday. The IDF teams that arrived in Istanbul Sunday brought back the remaining Israelis who were injured in the attack. The Israeli Air Force plane left Istanbul on Sunday afternoon and landed in Israel several hours later.
The Israeli victims were part of a 14-member group on a culinary tour of Turkey.
The Magen David Adom rescue service said the return of the seriously injured Israelis was delayed in order to enable them to recover enough to travel.
AFP contributed to this report.