The Counter-Terrorism Bureau at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday issued a travel warning calling on the public to avoid visiting Turkey and urging Israelis currently there to leave as soon as they can.
The warning, which raised the terror risk in Turkey from level 3 (basic concrete threat) to level 2 (high concrete threat), came in the wake of a terror attack in central Istanbul on March 19, in which three Israelis were killed and several others wounded.
That attack, the PMO said in a statement, underscored the threat emanating from Islamic State cells that seek to attack tourism sites and proved that IS has “high capabilities of carrying out further attacks.”
“Terrorist infrastructures in Turkey continue to advance additional attacks against tourist targets – including Israeli tourists – throughout the country,” the statement added.
Israelis in Turkey should “leave as soon as possible,” it said.
IS has been blamed for four of six bombings that have rocked Turkey in the past eight months, including a double suicide attack at a peace rally in the capital, Ankara, in October that left 103 people dead.
A radical offshoot of the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) claimed the other two attacks.
The police have warned that IS group members may have scouted out places of worship as well as consulates and embassies, saying that churches and synagogues especially in Ankara, as well as foundations belonging to non-Muslims, should be on their guard.
Israel has not stated definitively whether last Saturday’s blast had deliberately targeted Israelis. It has praised Turkey for its handling of the aftermath of the bombing.
The Israeli victims of the attack were Yonathan Suher, 40, Simha Dimri, 59, and Avraham Goldman, 69. Suher and Goldman were also United States citizens.
AFP contributed to this report.