The government downgraded its travel warning for Israelis heading to Turkey to the lowest of four possible levels Tuesday. The dramatic downgrade — only weeks ago, the National Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau had warned of an “imminent threat” to Israelis there — came after Turkey reportedly foiled an Iranian terror plot.
Channel 2 reported on Tuesday night that the Mossad had given its Turkish counterparts information on an Iranian effort to attack Israelis, and that the Turks had acted effectively behind the scenes to thwart the plot.
Such cooperation comes against the background of a deep diplomatic crisis between the two countries. Relations soured after the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident of May 2010, during which activists aboard a convoy of ships from Turkey tried to break the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza. Commandos who intercepted the Marmara were pounced upon and attacked. They opened fire and nine Turkish nationals were killed. Turkey has been demanding an Israeli apology ever since.
The new terror warning still recommends avoiding “non-essential” travel to Turkey, and advises those making the journey to be especially alert and cautious. It refers to a “continuing potential threat” to Jews as well as Israelis.
Turkish officials had complained in recent weeks about what they said were alarmist and unjustified travel warnings, designed, they said, to harm Turkey’s image. They also claimed Israel was issuing the warnings as payback for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s support for Hamas and blasting of Israel for making Gaza “the largest open-air prison” in the world. They said Turkey was protecting Jewish targets from attack and had worked with Israel to do so.
Israel has blamed Iran for a string of terror attacks and thwarted attacks in India, Thailand, and Georgia in February.
Turkey had been a very popular tourist destination for Israelis for many years, but that has dwindled as relations have soured.