Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid thanked Turkey for thwarting Iranian terror attempts targeting Israelis on its soil in a snap visit to the country on Thursday.
“In recent weeks, the lives of Israeli citizens have been saved thanks to security and diplomatic cooperation between Israel and Turkey," Lapid said, adding that the effort is ongoing. "Just today it was published that Turkish intelligence recently foiled an Iranian plot in Istanbul."
"We are full of appreciation for the Turkish government for this professional and coordinated activity.”
“Iran is behind these attempted terrorist attacks," Lapid continued, citing intelligence reports. "We’re not only talking about the murder of innocent Israeli tourists, but also a clear violation of Turkish sovereignty by Iranian terror."
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"Israel won’t sit idly by when there are attempts to harm its citizens in Israel and around the world,” Lapid stated, adding that finishing the process of allowing Israeli airlines to fly directly to both Istanbul and the Turkish coast remains a clear priority.
Lapid also mentioned the ongoing efforts to restore mutual diplomatic representation to ambassador level. "We began to hold discussions on returning ambassadors in the near future," Lapid said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Israel last month to encourage expanded economic cooperation in the first such visit by a senior Turkish official in 15 years.
Israel's President Isaac Herzog also commented on the threats posed by Iran at an Air Force graduation ceremony on Thursday saying, "Iran stretches its long arms of terror into Israel, to our borders, and into other states. No country in the world would allow its innocent civilians to be menaced solely on account of their identity."
“Today, we received news of attempts to kidnap and attack Israelis, and believe me that Israel’s security forces are operating 24/7 in ‘foiling’ and preventive operations often reminiscent of thriller movies. Reality sometimes surpasses all imagination," he added.
Last week, Turkish police detained several suspects on suspicion of planning targeted attacks on Israeli diplomats and tour groups in Istanbul, according to Hurriyet Daily News on Thursday.
Turkey's intelligence agency had received a tip that Iranian intelligence agents and local collaborators were plotting numerous kidnappings and attacks on Israeli targets, including a former Israeli ambassador and his wife.
Reuters contributed to this report.