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Turkey says it's a 'safe country' after Israel raises threat level

Turkish foreign ministry issued the statement after Israel urged its citizens to leave over fears of Iranian attacks
Tourists pass through a police checkpoint in Istanbul near the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia Mosque where security is tight, on 14 June 2022 (AFP)

Turkey's foreign ministry insists the country is "safe" after Israeli authorities urged their citizens to leave over fears of Iranian attacks.

On Monday, Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid urged citizens in Turkey to leave "as soon as possible" over threats that Iranian operatives were planning attacks on Israelis in Istanbul.

He said there was "a real and immediate danger" from Iranian agents.

Israel's Yediot Ahronoth newspaper on Monday quoted an unnamed security official saying that several Iranian "cells" were planning operations against Israeli tourists in Turkey.

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In an indirect response that did not mention Israel, Turkey's foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that while "some countries" had issued travel warnings, Turkey "is a safe country and continues to fight against terrorism".

"These travel warnings are considered to be related to different international developments and motives," it added.

The warnings come amid a surge in tensions between Iran and Israel, with Tehran blaming Israel for a series of attacks on its nuclear and military infrastructure.

According to The New York Times, Iran suspects that Israel killed two of its scientists a few weeks ago by poisoning their food.

Ayoub Entezari and Kamran Aghamolaei died in separate incidents under murky circumstances that Iran suspects were targeted killings, the Times reported, citing an Iranian official and two other sources connected to the government.

Turkey is a popular holiday destination for Israelis, including through more than a decade of diplomatic rupture between the two countries.

Ankara and Israel have mended ties in recent months, with senior Turkish leaders citing the importance of Israel to Turkey's tourism sector.

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