Turkish PM Conveys Condolences to Families of Israeli Victims of Istanbul Bombing

In a letter to Netanyahu, Davutoglu calls for resolute international action against terrorist groups and wishes speedy recovery to Israelis wounded in the attack.

People light candles at the site of a blast on Istiklal Street, a major shopping and tourist district, in central Istanbul on March 19, 2016.
AFP

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu conveyed his condolences to the families of Israelis who were killed in a suicide bombing in Istanbul on Saturday.

Two Israelis were confirmed killed in the attack, which took place shortly before 11 A.M. on Istiklal Street, in a major shopping and tourist district in central Istanbul. Another Israeli was also feared dead. Another victim was reportedly an Iranian national. Thirty-six people were wounded, among them eleven Israelis, two of whom are in serious condition. 

"Today's attack in Istanbul has shown us once again that the international community as a whole should act in a resolute manner against the ignoble objectives of terrorist organizations," Davutoğlu said in a letter sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

"I would like to convey my condolences to the families of the Israeli citizens who lost their lives in the heinous attack which happened in Istanbul and to the people of Israel, and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded."

The Israeli victims were part of a 14-member tour group visiting Istanbul, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. 

In televised remarks delivered from the Foreign Ministry's situation room earlier on Saturday evening, Netanyahu said Israel is trying to determine whether Israelis were deliberately targeted, but said that so far there was no confirmation that was the case. He said that he has ordered security to be bolstered around Israeli diplomatic missions in Istanbul and that he has yet to speak to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Asked if the attack could bring about Israeli-Turkish reconciliation, Netanyahu said that key issues between the two counties were still being negotiated.

Israel is in "regular contact with Turkey in recent months, it's no secret, even in the past few days," Netanyahu said. He added that an agreement between is being delayed "because of fundamental differences we are trying to agree on. There have been some progress and I hope that we will continue to make progress."