The words of the Israeli foreign minister sounded dramatic: "If you are already in Istanbul, return to Israel as soon as possible," Yair Lapid said on Monday.

“If you have planned a trip to Istanbul – cancel it.

No vacation is worth risking your life for.” Only hours later, the Israeli National Security Council issued an official statement: The existing travel warning for the Turkish metropolis was raised to the fourth and highest level.

Israeli citizens should leave the city immediately and refrain from traveling there until further notice.

As is so often the case these days, the background is the conflict between Israel and Iran.

Christian Meier

Political correspondent for the Middle East and Northeast Africa.

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A third-level travel warning had already applied to Istanbul and other areas of Turkey;

this means that non-essential travel has been discouraged.

The reasoning was the same as that given now: concern about possible Iranian attacks on Israelis - worldwide, but especially in Turkey.

This concern has now increased again: Monday's statement by the National Security Council speaks of "increased Iranian intentions to attack Israelis in Turkey, particularly in Istanbul".

The attack is said to have been foiled in May

Foreign Minister Lapid spoke of a "real and imminent danger" that Israeli tourists in Turkey could become victims of kidnapping attempts or assassination attempts by Iranian agents.

Israeli media only reported on Sunday that such an attack had been foiled about a month ago.

The Israeli government had previously lifted a news blackout to report on the process.

Accordingly, several Israeli citizens should be kidnapped in Istanbul.

However, based on an Israeli tip, the Turkish secret service intervened in good time.

Lapid said Monday that "Israeli security organizations, the State Department and the prime minister's office" have been part of a "massive effort that has saved Israeli lives" in recent weeks.

Referring to the affected Israeli tourists, the foreign minister said: "Some of them came back to Israel and don't even know that their lives were saved." kill.

At the end of May, possibly shortly after the allegedly foiled kidnapping, a colonel of the Revolutionary Guard was shot dead in Tehran in the middle of the day.

Sajjad Khodaei was a member of the Al-Quds Brigade, which is responsible for foreign operations, and is said to have been responsible for planning attacks within the organization.

Iran blamed Israel for the killing of the Revolutionary Guard by two gunmen on motorcycles, and President Ebrahim Raisi vowed it would avenge Khodaei's death.

A few days later, Israel reiterated the travel warning for Turkey, citing Iranian threats as the reason.

A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Monday, even before the Israeli travel warning was tightened, reaffirmed Iran's will to retaliate for Israeli actions.

However, the Islamic Republic's "answer" would be given in Israel itself and not in a third country, Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

The commander of the Iranian army's ground forces, Kiumars Heydari, warned Israel not to "make mistakes" a week ago.

In such a case, he said, according to a report by the Iranian news agency Tasnim, "Tel Aviv and Haifa would be razed to the ground."

In Israel, the dispute with Iran is often referred to as a "war between wars".

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has recently pointed out several times that Israel has been more active against Iran's activities in the region than before since the beginning of his term in office.

Part of this conflict is taking place in Syria, where Israel regularly attacks positions and convoys of Iranian and pro-Iranian forces.

The airport in the Syrian capital Damascus was severely damaged in a rocket attack suspected to have come from Israel on Friday.

Air traffic has been suspended until further notice.

The attack targeted warehouses used by Iranian militias, according to a report by the UK-based non-governmental organization the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Israel accuses Iran of secretly transporting weapons and weapons technology to Syria on civilian flights.