According to media reports, Turkish authorities have arrested five Iranians suspected of planning attacks on Israelis with pistols and silencers.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid thanked Turkey on Thursday for helping thwart an Iranian plot to harm Israelis in Istanbul and said the effort is still ongoing.
Turkish authorities arrested five Iranians suspected of planning attacks on Israelis ahead of Lapid’s visit, Turkish media said earlier in the day.
Lapid warned that Israel would not “stand idly by” threats against its citizens from Iran.
“The lives of Israeli citizens have been saved in recent weeks thanks to the security and diplomatic cooperation between Israel and Turkey,” Lapid said during a visit to Turkey. “These efforts are ongoing.”
Lapid arrived in Turkey on Thursday for talks with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, as the two countries continue efforts to repair ties tense over Turkey’s strong support for the Palestinians.
The newspaper Hurriyet reported that Turkish authorities on Wednesday arrested five Iranian nationals suspected of involvement in an alleged plot to murder Israeli civilians in Istanbul.
According to the report, police seized two pistols and two silencers in searches of homes and hotels where the suspects stayed.
No immediate response from Iran was available.
Earlier this month, Israel warned its citizens to avoid traveling to Turkey and urged Israelis in Turkey to leave immediately. The warning said Israeli civilians could be targets of Iranian attacks.
“Israel, for its part, will not stand idly by when there are attempts to harm its citizens in Israel and around the world. Our immediate goal is to bring peace of mind so that we can change the travel warning to: [Turkey]said Lapid.
The travel warning angered Turkey, whose economy is largely dependent on tourism. Ankara responded by issuing a statement stating that Turkey was a safe country.
Cavusoglu stood next to Lapid and said Turkey “cannot allow incidents like this in our country”.
“We have delivered the necessary messages,” he said without elaborating.
Turkey, ravaged by economic problems, has sought to end its international isolation by normalizing ties with several countries in the Middle East, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Turkey and Israel were once close allies, but relations became tense under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been an outspoken critic of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. Turkey’s embrace of Hamas, the movement that rules the beleaguered Gaza Strip, has angered Israel.
The countries withdrew their ambassadors in 2010 after Israeli forces stormed a humanitarian flotilla headed for Gaza, which has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas took power there in 2007.
Nine Turkish activists were killed. Israel apologized to Turkey for the deaths under a US-brokered deal, but reconciliation efforts stalled.
Turkey recalled its ambassador in 2018 after the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, prompting Israel to respond in kind. The two countries have not reappointed their ambassadors.
The most recent rapprochement was led by Israel’s mostly ceremonial president, Isaac Herzog, who made several phone calls with Erdogan and visited Turkey in March, becoming the first Israeli leader in 14 years to do so.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Israel last month† It was the first official visit to Israel by a Turkish official in 15 years.