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Turkish Forces Apprehend Iranian Cell Planning to Strike Israelis

June 24, 2022

by: Ilse Strauss

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Israeli and Turkish forces worked side by side to thwart the Iranian attacks.

Friday, 24 June 2022 | The straight-from-a-spy-thriller saga starring Iranian antagonists going after Israeli targets on Turkish soil continues to unfold with the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News reporting yesterday that Ankara’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and local police have thwarted a number of Iranian attempts to murder and abduct Israelis in Istanbul, including a former Israeli ambassador and his wife.

The report didn’t come as a surprise. Over the past two weeks, Turkey—and particularly Istanbul—has served as the stage for the latest episode of the shadow war between Jerusalem and Tehran, and Israeli media has been abuzz with reports of Jerusalem and Ankara working side by side to prevent Tehran from striking at citizens of the Jewish state in Turkey. The attacks, the reports explained, were aimed at exacting revenge against Israel, who Iran blames for a number of Iranian scientists and military officials involved in the mullahs nuclear program dying under suspicious circumstances over the past weeks.

The reports in Israeli media didn’t go into much detail regarding the nature of the planned attacks, the rescue efforts or the prospective attackers themselves. However, yesterday’s Hurriyet report provided some of the puzzle pieces.

According to Hurriyet, a number of Iranian cells were dispatched to neighboring Turkey, where they “were allegedly preparing to kidnap and attack Israeli diplomats and tourist groups in Istanbul. The hitmen—reportedly members of the Iranian intelligence service and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)—were in Istanbul undercover, posing as students, business people and tourists with help from “local collaborators.”

The MIT and local police nabbed several suspects during a joint operation on June 17 at the Soul Hotel and at three private rental homes. The attacks were reportedly thwarted just before they were launched, with all operatives and logistical aspects of the terror operation already in place. In fact, according to the Jerusalem Post, Turkish forces swooped in moments before the attackers could strike to rescue the intended Israeli targets. Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency subsequently evacuated the Israelis on a private plane.

The Hurriyet report was published just before Foreign Minister and incoming Prime Minister Yair Lapid touched down in Ankara.

“In recent weeks, the lives of Israeli citizens have been saved thanks to the security and diplomatic cooperation between Israel and Turkey,” Lapid said. “Iran is behind these attempted terrorist attacks. The intelligence leaves no doubt about it. We’re not only talking about the murder of innocent Israeli tourists, but also a clear violation of Turkish sovereignty by Iranian terror. No country should tolerate terror on its soil.”

Lapid met, among others, with the head of Turkish intelligence and the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu, who highlighted the close cooperation between his country and Israel to thwart terror. “We will not allow terror in our land,” he said. “I believe we sent the message to the terrorists.”

Despite the arrests and the would-be attackers in custody, Israel believes that the threat remains and that its people are not yet safe in Turkey. Security forces from Jerusalem and Ankara will thus continue to work side by side in the days to come.

Iran has remained conspicuously mum over the past few weeks. However, hours after the Hurriyet report aired, the IRGC, Tehran’s shadowy spy unit in charge of operations outside Iran’s borders, announced the ousting of the head of its intelligence unit, Hossein Taeb.

According to Hebrew media, Taeb was the architect behind the Iranian revenge operation against Israel that failed so miserably in Turkey.

Posted on June 24, 2022

Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 24, 2022)

Photo Credit: Turkey flag- www slon pics/; Israel flag- patrice6000/      

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