Egypt Warns Iran Against Attacks on Israeli Tourists, Report Says

Iran dismissed Israeli 'lie' that Tehran was looking for alternative arenas to target Israelis after operatives arrested in Turkey, Egyptian sources tell al-Araby al-Jadeed following meetings between intel officials

Jack Khoury
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Egyptians and tourists walk at a popular tourist area in the Khan el-Khalili market, at al-Hussein and Al-Azhar districts in old Islamic Cairo, Egypt in May.
Egyptians and tourists walk at a popular tourist area in the Khan el-Khalili market, at al-Hussein and Al-Azhar districts in old Islamic Cairo, Egypt in May.Credit: AMR ABDALLAH DALSH/ Reuters
Jack Khoury

Egypt has warned Iran against targeting Israelis on Egyptian soil, U.K.-based publication al-Araby al-Jadeed reported on Wednesday, citing Egyptian sources.

According to the report, Egyptian intelligence officials have recently met with their Iranian counterparts to discuss security ties and other regional issues, including rising tensions between Israel and Iran and the recent killings of senior Revolutionary Guards commanders.

As part of the talks, the Egyptians reportedly warned that "any Iranian attempt" to carry out attacks against Israeli individuals or targets in Egypt will harm ties between Cairo and Tehran.

Egyptian sources told Haaretz that Cairo and Tehran maintain security ties and a policy of non-interference. Tehran has made sure not to enter a confrontation with Egypt, the sources said, and therefore "Cairo didn't need to warn the Iranians... and the Iranians understand it's not in their interest to harm Israeli targets on Egyptian soil."

The Egyptian officials stressed to their Iranian counterparts, according to the report, that Egypt has refrained from joining any regional alliance against Iran, which it sees as "futile." Any Iranian attack in Egypt might trigger a policy change in Cairo, the sources said, adding that Egypt received information from Israeli intelligence and warning that Iran may be looking for new arenas to operate in against Israelis, after a joint Turkish-Israeli move to foil Iranian activity in Turkey.

The Israeli intelligence, according to the report, named Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as potential "alternatives" Iran had been looking into.

In talks with the Egyptian officials, the Iranians denied any plans to carry out attacks on Egyptian soil, claiming that the Israeli allegations of Iranian attempts to target Israeli tourists in any third country is "a lie." The Iranian officials, according to the Egyptian sources, said that Tehran was "keen to prevent any harm to the peace with Egypt."

For the past weeks, Israel has issued the highest travel warning for Turkey, calling on Israelis to avoid the country if possible. It specified that Istanbul poses a particularly high risk, due to Iranian cells who planned to carry out terror attacks and kidnappings against Israelis there.

However, on Tuesday, Israel's National Security Council announced it has reduced the threat level for travel to Turkey, attributing it to intelligence and operational cooperation with Ankara and a wave of arrests of members of Iranian cells that were plotting against Israelis in the country.

The head of the National Security Council's intelligence unit, Yossi Adler, told journalists on Tuesday that they have downgraded Istanbul's threat level from 4, the highest, to 3, bringing it in line with the travel warning level for the rest of the country.

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel took part in a secret, U.S.-initiated meeting of top military officials from throughout the Middle East in Egypt in March in order to discuss combatting the shared threat of Iran’s missile and drone capabilities.

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