Israeli tourists in Turkey warned over attack threat from Iran

Special Israeli tourists in Turkey warned over attack threat from Iran
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen with Israeli FM Yair Lapid in the Knesset, Jerusalem, Monday, June 13, 2022. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 13 June 2022

Israeli tourists in Turkey warned over attack threat from Iran

Israeli tourists in Turkey warned over attack threat from Iran
  • FM Yair Lapid has warned that Tehran may be plotting revenge attacks on Israeli tourists
  • Yair Lapid: ‘If you are already in Istanbul, return to Israel as soon as possible; if you have planned a flight to Istanbul, cancel; no vacation is worth your life’

ANKARA: Israeli tourists in Istanbul have been urged to return home “as soon as possible” amid heightened fears of attacks on holidaymakers by Iranian agents.

Turkish and Israeli security chiefs have recently been successful in collaborating over the threat of Israeli citizens in Turkey being the target of Iran-backed kidnappings or killings.

But Israel’s Foreign Affairs Minister Yair Lapid has now warned that Tehran may be plotting revenge attacks on pleasure trippers.

Addressing a meeting of lawmakers from his Yesh Atid party, he said: “It’s a real and immediate danger.

“If you are already in Istanbul, return to Israel as soon as possible. If you have planned a flight to Istanbul, cancel. No vacation is worth your life.”

Lapid added that all non-essential trips to Turkey should be avoided.

Israel recently alerted Ankara about a potential Iranian plan to abduct and kill Israelis in Turkey.

Last month, Israeli and Turkish security agencies uncovered an Iranian conspiracy to kidnap Israeli tourists in Turkey and foiled an attack at the last moment, according to Israeli media.

In February, the Turkish national intelligence agency, in cooperation with its Israeli counterpart, thwarted another Iranian cell planning to assassinate 75-year-old Turkish-Israeli businessman Yair Geller, in Istanbul.

Jason Brodsky, policy director of United Against Nuclear Iran, told Arab News that Lapid’s warning reflected a concrete and imminent threat to Israelis in Turkey.

He said: “This is an unusual step for Israel’s Foreign Ministry to take, and it reflects the seriousness of the situation. Iran is trying to restore the deterrence equation by expanding its target list, focusing on not just Israeli diplomats and businessmen, but now civilian tourists.

“This likely reflects frustration on the part of Iranian security services after repeated attacks and setbacks. Iran and its proxies have targeted Israeli tourists before, for example in July 2012 when Israeli tourists were killed in the Burgas bus bombing in Bulgaria. So, it would not be unprecedented for Tehran to take this step,” he added.

Iranian networks are still believed to be operating inside Turkey in a bid to carry out attacks and kidnappings.

Iran recently accused Israel of assassinating Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Col. Sayyad Khodaei, who was shot dead in the middle of Tehran on May 22. He was believed to be involved in attempts against Israelis.

Turkey is a popular tourist destination for Israelis. The improvement in the political climate between Turkey and Israel after years of crisis over an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla, has resulted in an increased number of Istanbul bookings by Israeli travelers.

In March 2016, a suicide bomber blew himself up near an Israeli tourist group in the heart of Istanbul on a pedestrian boulevard, killing three of them.

Last year, the number of Israeli tourists visiting Turkey rose by 57 percent and passed beyond 200,000.

Gallia Lindenstrauss, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel, told Arab News: “Obviously Iran is looking for opportunities to revenge attacks it believes Israel is behind. Turkey is an ideal location to target Israelis as it is a very popular tourist destination for Israelis.”

She pointed out that Tehran may intend to damage the current rapprochement between Israel and Turkey.

“Israeli and Turkish security services have a long history of cooperation and in fact almost in all the years of crisis between the two countries some level of intelligence cooperation remained and hence this basis of cooperation is now used well to thwart Iranian plans,” Lindenstrauss said.

Dr. Nimrod Goren, president and founder of Mitvim, the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, told Arab News that tensions between Israel and Iran were on the rise, and as in the past they were being played out in various countries and regions.

He said: “Apparently, Iran is planning to attack Israelis visiting Turkey, and as this threat becomes more realistic, Israel is stepping up its warning to its citizens.”

Goren noted that the warming of bilateral ties between Turkey and Israel over the last year and the rebuilding of trust, dialogue channels, and practical cooperation had enabled the two countries to tackle the threat together with mutual sensitivity and consideration, eventually leveraging it for an improvement in ties.

“The Israeli travel warning to Turkey does not reflect any negative attitudes toward Turkey. On the contrary, Lapid thanked Turkey for its effort to secure Israelis, and the Israeli government expressed interest around Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s visit in deepening cooperation on tourism and civic aviation,” he added.

Iranian threats also coincide with the unprecedented efforts by both Turkey and Israel to search for potential bilateral cooperation avenues including on trade, energy, and tourism especially after Israeli president Isaac Herzog made a landmark visit to Ankara in March.

Cavusoglu met with Israeli’s Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov and Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej in Jerusalem on May 25 – the first such visit by a senior Turkish official in 15 years.

The ministers agreed to expand direct flights between the two countries as well as develop economic ties. Officials also committed to work on a new civil aviation agreement.

The latest security threat, Goren said, emphasized the need for Israel and Turkey to resume their strategic dialogue on regional affairs, which would be easier to do once full ambassadorial ties were restored, as both nations had successfully cooperated in the past in confronting terror threats.


Kuwaiti charity offers psychological aid to victims of war, crisis

Kuwaiti charity offers psychological aid to victims of war, crisis
Updated 05 December 2022

Kuwaiti charity offers psychological aid to victims of war, crisis

Kuwaiti charity offers psychological aid to victims of war, crisis
  • Team of 30 psychologists, specialists will provide support to refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey

KUWAIT: A Kuwaiti charity is offering psychological aid and emotional support for victims of wars and crises in the Middle East.

The International Islamic Charity Organization charity has established a team of 30 psychologists and specialists who will provide support in three refugee-hosting countries: Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, Kuwait News Agency reported on Monday.

Othman Al-Asfour, head of the lICO Tarahum team, said that the initiative affirms an integral part of social and psychological support in humanitarian aid.

Psychologist Dr. Shereefa Al-Khamees stressed that refugees were in urgent need of psychological aid as much as handouts and donations.

The psychological health of the affected is very delicate and requires thorough treatment and support, Al-Khamees added.

 


Jordan, Algeria launch new phase of cooperation

Jordan, Algeria launch new phase of cooperation
Updated 05 December 2022

Jordan, Algeria launch new phase of cooperation

Jordan, Algeria launch new phase of cooperation
  • Jordan’s King Abdullah, Algerian president witness signing of two agreements and three MoUs
  • Governments instructed to take steps to boost investment, commercial opportunities in both countries

ALGIERS: Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune have launched a new phase of bilateral relations.

The leaders held talks on Sunday in Algiers to discuss boosting Jordanian-Algerian cooperation in politics, economics, trade, investment, and defense, Jordan News Agency reported.

The meeting, which was attended by senior officials from both sides, also affirmed interest in maintaining coordination and consultation on Arab causes and other issues of mutual concern. 

King Abdullah reiterated the centrality of the Palestinian cause and the need to protect Palestinians’ legitimate rights. 

He called for a just and comprehensive peace plan based on the two-state solution which establishes an independent and sovereign Palestinian state along the June 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital. 

He also reaffirmed the significance of maintaining the historical and legal status quo at Al Aqsa Mosque.

Following the meeting, the leaders witnessed the signing of an agreement on visa exemptions for diplomatic passport-holders, as well as a cooperation program between Jordan News Agency and the Algerian Press Service. 

Three memorandums of understanding on political consultations, cooperation between the Jordan Institute of Diplomacy and the Algeria Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations, and the mutual recognition of maritime qualification certificates for seafarers, education programs, and maritime training between the two countries were also signed.

King Abdullah and President Tebboune further instructed their governments to take the necessary steps to encourage investors and businesses to explore investment and commercial opportunities in both countries. 

They were also directed to move forward with agreements that would expand collaborations in health care, energy, medical tourism, hotels, transportation, aviation training, higher education, and cultural exchange between universities. 

Economists have praised the outcomes of King Abdullah’s state visit to Algeria.

Jordanian Senator Mazen Darwazah said that Jordanian investment in Algeria has gradually increased over the last two decades, with the drug industry spending nearly $1 billion.

Jordanian-Algerian Business Council Coordinator Khaled Al-Soub said that Algerian law allows Jordanian investors to expand their projects and acquire shares from foreign partners. 

Energy expert Hashem Akel said that Algeria was rich in petrol and natural resources and hoped that energy imports from the country would increase after Jordan receives preferential prices.

 


Italy pledges ‘full cooperation’ with Jordan during king’s visit

Italy pledges ‘full cooperation’ with Jordan during king’s visit
Updated 05 December 2022

Italy pledges ‘full cooperation’ with Jordan during king’s visit

Italy pledges ‘full cooperation’ with Jordan during king’s visit
  • ‘Many common points were found during the talks,’ source in PM’s office tells Arab News
  • Trade, cultural and defense cooperation were the core issues discussed

ROME: Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni pledged their country’s “full cooperation” with Jordan “in every field,” during a meeting with King Abdullah II.

The monarch and Queen Rania were received by Mattarella at Quirinale Palace during their visit to Rome.

A source in the Italian presidency told Arab News that Mattarella stressed to the king “the importance for his country of the longstanding friendship between Italy and Jordan.” 

Italy is one of Jordan’s main commercial partners. In the first five months of 2021, bilateral trade grew by 26.7 percent compared to the same period the previous year. During the same period, Jordanian exports to Italy grew by 82.7 percent.

During an official lunch at Chigi Palace, Meloni told the king: “We always can do more together in so many fields.”

A source in the prime minister’s office said trade, cultural and defense cooperation were the core issues discussed.

“The situation in Syria was also covered. Many common points were found during the talks,” the source told Arab News.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani and Defense Minister Guido Crosetto also attended the lunch.


UNRWA, Arab League urge protection of Palestinian education curriculum

UNRWA, Arab League urge protection of Palestinian education curriculum
Updated 05 December 2022

UNRWA, Arab League urge protection of Palestinian education curriculum

UNRWA, Arab League urge protection of Palestinian education curriculum
  • Israeli censorship a concern, says ALECSO representative

CAIRO: The Palestinian education system should be protected from attempts to censor material being taught at schools.

This was the concern raised by some officials at the 32nd joint meeting of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees and the Council of Educational Affairs of the Arab League in Cairo, the Saudi Press Agency reported. The gathering took place at the Arab League’s headquarters in Egypt’s capital.

Dr. Tamer Anis, a representative of the Arab League Educational Cultural and Scientific Organization, drew attention to Israel’s attempts to censor the Palestinian curriculum. He urged support for the Palestinian Ministry of Education.

Arab News had reported this year about attempts by Israel to impose a “sanitized” curriculum on East Jerusalem’s schools that includes the deletion of all photos of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the word Palestine and the Palestinian flag. Holy Qur’anic verses were also deleted on claims that they help strengthen Palestinian, Arab and Islamic identities.

At Sunday’s meeting in Cairo, Saeed Abu Ali, the Arab League’s assistant secretary-general for Palestine and the occupied Arab territories, said the gathering comes in the wake of the UNRWA’s ongoing financial crisis, which has had a direct impact on the services provided to Palestinian refugees.

Abu Ali stressed the need for the next UNRWA budget to reflect the growing needs of Palestinian refugees. He added that the Arab League would continue to keep communication channels open between the two organizations

Rawda Al-Hajj, the representative of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said that ISESCO continues to support several education projects in Palestine.

The UNRWA’s Deputy Director of Education Moritz Bilagher reiterated that the Palestinian refugee crisis was not solely the responsibility of Arab countries, but rather a global issue for which the international community must take responsibility.

 


Israeli President arrives in UAE for Abu Dhabi Space Debate

Israeli President arrives in UAE for Abu Dhabi Space Debate
Updated 05 December 2022

Israeli President arrives in UAE for Abu Dhabi Space Debate

Israeli President arrives in UAE for Abu Dhabi Space Debate
  • Israeli president among 300 high-ranking personalities attending the event

DUBAI: Israeli president Isaac Herzog has arrived in the UAE Monday to attend the Abu Dhabi Space Debate, state news agency (WAM) reported.

Herzog was welcomed by the UAE’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at the Presidential Airport in Abu Dhabi.

The Israeli president will be among 300 high-ranking personalities and decision makers attending the first edition of the Abu Dhabi Space Debate, which opened on Monday.

The two-day event will discuss the space industry’s most pressing challenges and factors to drive the new space economy.