Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz over the weekend urged Israeli nationals visiting Turkey to follow the recommendations issued by the ministry to minimize risk amid the threat of Iranian attack.

Last week, the National Security Council’s Counterterrorism Bureau raised its travel warning for Istanbul to the highest level possible. The Level 4 travel advisory stipulates that Israelis should not travel to Istanbul, and that any Israelis currently there should leave immediately.

However, compliance has been partial at best, with officials criticizing those Israelis failing to heed the warnings for not demonstrating greater personal responsibility.

Israel had obtained intelligence that several Iranian terrorist squads were actively “hunting” Israelis, via social media and at major tourist sites in Istanbul, with the aim of abducting or kill them, said Gantz.

Israeli authorities estimate that there are currently over 2,000 Israelis in Istanbul, a highly popular destination among Israelis.

Last week, some 1,000 Israelis were personally warned by security officials that they were being targeted, and told to return to Israel immediately. According to media reports, the majority of them heeded the warning.

On Friday, Channel 12 News reported that Israeli and Turkish intelligence services had managed to thwart an attack against Israelis, arresting the members of an Iranian terrorist cell.

It is believed that Iran is seeking to retaliate against the recent mysterious deaths of Iranian scientists and top Islamic Revolutionary Guard  Corps officers, which Tehran blames on Israel.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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