Israelis in Istanbul were whisked to airport as assassins waited at hotel — report

Istanbul's skyline, with the iconic Galata Tower, January 29, 2021. (AP Photo/ Emrah Gurel)
Istanbul's skyline, with the iconic Galata Tower, January 29, 2021. (AP Photo/ Emrah Gurel)

Some Israelis visiting Istanbul were spirited out of the country by Israeli security officials last week, who were acting on intelligence showing that the visitors were at immediate risk of being attacked, Channel 13 news reports.

According to the channel, one woman out visiting a market got a call from a senior Israeli official telling her to not return to her hotel because Iranian assassins were waiting there for her and her spouse. Instead, a caravan with some 10 Israeli security officers took the couple to the airport — leaving their stuff in the hotel — and to Israel, where they were probed for clues about the plot against them.

No details about the couple have been revealed, including whether they were specifically targeted for a reason or if they were only threatened due to being Israeli. It is not clear how many people were contacted and told to leave immediately.

According to Channel 13, the government waited until now to warn the rest of the public about the imminent threat on their lives out of consideration for the Turks, who wanted time to deal with the situation.

Two weeks ago, Channel 12 news reported that Israeli security officials called and directly warned more than 100 Israeli citizens in Turkey that they were in Iran’s crosshairs, and asked them to return.

Israel is not planning on sending rescue flights for Israelis there, and many there are not planning on running away anyway, the channel reports. Flight cancellations for those planning trips, however, are starting to pile up.

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