In the wake of the bombing in Istanbul which killed three Israelis and wounded four others, Foreign Ministry’s director-general Dore Gold cut short his visit to Washington for the AIPAC Conference to go to Turkey.
Gold arrived on Sunday afternoon to meet with Turkish officials and help coordinate the investigation. Turkish authorities said on Sunday that an Islamic State terrorist operative carried out the attack, but Israel wants to know if Israelis were the target.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said: “I didn’t talk to Erdogan, but we are in contact with the Turkish authorities. The Foreign Ministry Director General spoke with his Turkish counterpart and, naturally, we are trying to clarify things in the intelligence sphere. We currently have no confirmation that this terrorist incident was directed at Israelis.”
This marks the first visit of an Israeli official of Gold’s rank in Istanbul in several years.
Meanwhile, the bombing and a subsequent upgraded travel advisory issued by the Israeli government has already resulted in some canceled bookings.
“In the wake of an assessment of the situation, it was decided to update the existing travel warning vis-à-vis Turkey from an ongoing potential threat to a basic concrete threat, and to reiterate our recommendation to the public to avoid visiting the country,” the National Security Council Counter-Terrorism Bureau (NSCCTB) said in a statement on Sunday.
A number of cancelations were recorded as of Thursday morning, according to Ynet, though no specific numbers were given.
“Shortly after the terrorist attack, we began to receive calls from customers who had bought seats on flights to Turkey,” said Daka 90 group Deputy CEO Dana Lavi. “We’re not seeing an enormous number of cancellations, however. People are finding out what will happen to their flight, and are trying find out what the possibilities are. For example, the Pegasus low-cost Turkish company announced that anyone who bought a ticket in the past two days is entitled to cancel it at no cost whatsoever.”
Gulliver Tourism CEO Ziv Rozen argued that it was premature to declare a drop in Israeli travel to Turkey. “Cancelations occur after every such event, but as time passes, the effect of the event subsides, as happened following the attacks in Paris, for example.”
“I think that most customers are mainly waiting to see how it goes. If it gets worse, there’s no doubt that they will look for other sunny destinations, and stay away from Turkey,” Rozen stated. “Keep in mind that Israelis have found alternatives in recent years, mainly Greece.”