Turkish authorities have detained five Iranians suspected of planning attacks on Israelis ahead of Thursday’s visit to Turkey by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Turkish media reports said.
Hurriyet newspaper reported that Turkish authorities detained five Iranian nationals on Wednesday suspected of involvement in an alleged plot to assassinate Israeli citizens in Istanbul. Police seized two pistols and two silencers in searches conducted in houses and hotels where the suspects were staying, according to the report.
Lapid arrived in Turkey on Thursday for talks with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu as the two countries press ahead with efforts to repair ties that have been strained over Turkey’s strong support for the Palestinians.
They were also expected to discuss a recent warning issued by Israel calling on its citizens to avoid travel to Turkey and urging Israelis in Turkey to leave immediately. The warning said Israeli citizens could be targets of Iranian attacks.
The warning angered Turkey, whose economy depends on tourism to a large extent. Ankara responded by issuing a statement that said Turkey was a safe country.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has since said that a joint operation with Turkey succeeded in thwarting several attacks and resulted in the arrest of several suspected operatives on Turkish soil in recent days.