A Turkish police officer stands guard in front of a synagogue in Istanbul.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The National Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau released a statement Friday warning Israelis at home and abroad to avoid travel to Turkey due to the "heightened security risk" and "threat of an terror attacks" in the country.
"Following the evaluation of the current situation in Turkey, we have raised the alert level," the statement from the bureau said.
"At the same time we encourage Israelis currently in Turkey to refrain from visiting tourist areas with large crowds and follow the instructions of local security officials," the statement added.
The statement noted that the travel warning was "hot" or of high value and that the defense establishment "wished to reiterate its recommendation to avoid visiting the country and those in it to leave as soon as possible".
Last month, three Israelis and one Iranian national were killed when a suicide bomber killed himself in a busy shopping district in central Istanbul. Thirty-six people, including 11 Israelis were also injured in the attack.
On March 28
, Israel upgraded its advisory regarding Turkey, recommending that not only should Israelis not travel to the country, but that Israelis already there should leave immediately.
The bureau, under the direct auspices of the Prime Minister's Office, at that time issued a statement saying that the existing travel warning has been upgraded from a Level 3 warning of a basic concrete threat, to a Level 2 warning of a high concrete threat.
According to a statement issued by the bureau, the Istanbul attack demonstrated again the high level of threat to tourist sites in Turkey from Islamic State, as well as the organization’s capability of carrying out attacks. “The terrorist infrastructure in Turkey continues to advance additional attacks against tourist targets – including Israeli tourists – throughout the country,” the statement read.