June 20, 2022
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
Having traveled and worked in the Middle East since l968, Robert L. Wise has journeyed through the region, giving him insights from behind the scenes. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon. Each week he attempts to present an objective view of current events.
ISRAELIS HIDE IN ISTANBUL
Middle East terrorism takes many forms. One of the more alarming expressions occurred in Turkey this past week. Israelis were running for cover as Iranian agents roamed the streets looking for them. Here’s the story.
Friday’s warnings came a day after Israel’s National Security Council issued rare, specific instructions to Israelis in Turkey, telling them not to open their hotel room doors for delivery people, not to post about their travel plans on social media, and not to go to the same tourist traps that other Israelis often visit.
On Monday, the National Security Council raised the warning level for travel to Istanbul to its highest level, putting it alongside Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iran as places that Israelis must leave immediately and may not visit.
Tensions between Israel and Iran have intensified in recent weeks, after the assassination of a top Iranian officer in Tehran last month, a number of other deaths of security personnel inside Iran, airstrikes against Iran-linked targets in Syria, threatening rhetoric from Iranian leaders and Iran’s increasing violations of nuclear agreements.
The latest warnings came after a week in which Israel has urged its citizens in Turkey to immediately return home, and issued its highest possible security warning for Istanbul, over concerns that Iranian agents are planning to kill or kidnap Israelis. The warnings came amid unverified reports in the press that Israeli and Turkish intelligence had together already thwarted several planned attacks by a broad network of Iranian agents, nabbing some of the suspects.
It is currently believed to be some 2,000 Israelis in Turkey.
Israeli media cited unnamed officials who said that Israeli agents were in Turkey working shoulder to shoulder with their Turkish counterparts in an effort to thwart the attacks, noting that there was excellent cooperation with local officials. There is a “manhunt right now in the streets of Istanbul to stop an incident that has already gotten underway,” the report said. “Being in Istanbul right now for an Israeli is akin to playing Russian roulette, tempting fate. If we could publicize the full operational picture, Israelis would be fleeing as they would a fire,” a senior official was reported as saying.
The Middle East remains dangerous for anyone who stumbles into one of these hot spots. Hopefully, there will be no explosive instances in the next few days.
Readers of my Wise on the Middle East blog will be fascinated by my latest book
MIRACLES NEVER CEASE!