Israel lowers Istanbul travel warning, but warns of threat throughout Turkey

The Israeli National Security Council on Tuesday lowered its travel warning for Istanbul to moderate, after it had been at its highest level for the Turkish megacity over threats from Iran targeting Israeli civilians.

The new Level 3 warning advises Israelis to avoid all non-essential travel to Istanbul, the Times of Israel reported.

Earlier this month, Israel had urged its citizens to immediately leave Istanbul because of the “real and immediate danger” coming from Iranian operatives as it raised the travel warning on the Turkish city to a maximum level.

The fear over attacks on Israeli nationals is sparked by the killing of Colonel Hassan Sayyad-Khodayari, a member of Iran’s Quds Force of the Guards last month. Iran has blamed Israel for the assassination. Israel denies the charges.

“It’s a return to the situation we knew several weeks ago,” the Times of Israel cited Yossi Adler, a senior director for Intelligence at National Security Council, as saying in a briefing to Israeli diplomatic reporters.

But the NSC maintains that Iran’s motivation to carry out attacks remains high, it said, highlighting “efforts to build infrastructure on the one hand and identify potential Israeli and Jewish targets on the other hand.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid last week during his visit to Ankara thanked Turkey for thwarting an alleged Iranian assassination plot against its tourists in Istanbul.

Iran responded by dismissing Lapid’s remarks as "ridiculous." 

"The baseless allegations... are ridiculous and part of a pre-designed plot to destroy relations between the two Muslim countries," France 24 news site cited Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh as saying in a statement.

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