Bennett: Israel and Turkey foiled multiple Iranian terror attacks in recent days

In press conference prior to announcing end of coalition, prime minister praises cooperation between Jerusalem and Ankara

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Turkish riot police officers walk in front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul on June 14, 2022. (Yasin Akgul/AFP)
Turkish riot police officers walk in front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul on June 14, 2022. (Yasin Akgul/AFP)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Monday that Israeli and Turkish security officials have worked together to foil terrorist attacks on Israelis in Turkey.

“The operational efforts alongside Turkish security forces have borne fruit,” Bennett said. “In recent days, in a joint Israeli-Turkish effort, we thwarted a number of attacks and a number of terrorists were arrested on Turkish soil.”

The prime minister did not include details on the number of attacks, how many individuals were arrested, or the nationality of the terrorists.

Israel is “working closely with Turkish officials to thwart attempts to strike Israelis and Jews,” said Bennett.

Bennett spoke in his office to Israeli reporters hours before he and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced that they would be dissolving the Knesset.

“Cooperation between Turkey and Israel is tight and is being carried out on all levels,” he said.

A Turkish police officer walks in front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, on June 14, 2022. (Yasin Akgul/AFP)

Senior Israeli leaders have sounded a series of warnings since last week that Iran is trying to carry out terror attacks against Israelis on Turkish soil.

“The goal is to return the situation to normal as quickly as possible,” Bennett said.

The outgoing prime minister also thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his cooperation.

Israel has issued a series of repeated harsh warnings to Israeli travelers in recent weeks to avoid visiting Turkey, and said it has foiled attempted attacks with the help of Turkish authorities.

Senior Israeli officials warned on Friday that there were “concrete” threats that Iran was trying to carry out a terror attack on Israelis in Istanbul over the weekend, and urged all citizens to leave Turkey immediately. It also instructed those who remained in the city to stay in their hotels.

There are currently believed to be some 2,000 Israelis in Turkey. On Sunday, Channel 12 reported that fewer Israelis were heading to the country, without providing updated figures or sources.

Mourners gather around a truck carrying the flag draped coffin of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei who was killed on Sunday, in his funeral ceremony in Tehran, Iran, May 24, 2022. (AP Photo/ Vahid Salemi)

According to the report, the Iranians have been planning attacks for months, apparently in revenge for the slayings of senior officers and others blamed on Israel.

In late May, senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officer Hassan Sayyad Khodaei was gunned down outside his home in Tehran. An unnamed US intelligence official told The New York Times that Israel told Washington it had carried out the attack, which Israel has not confirmed.

Khodaei’s assassination was the most high-profile killing inside Iran since the November 2020 killing of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

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