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Israel Urges Citizens to Avoid Visiting Turkey Following the Deadly March 19 Attack in Istanbul, Israel PM

Israel on Monday warned its citizens against visiting Turkey, and urged Israelis already there to leave as soon as possible.

The Counter-Terrorism Bureau, operating under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s office, raised the travel warning level from a "basic concrete threat" to a "high threat."

The advisory urges the Israeli public to "avoid visiting" Turkey, and for Israelis currently in Turkey to leave as soon as possible.

The move followed a March 19 suicide bombing that killed four people in Istanbul, including three Israeli tourists; 11 Israelis were among the injured, some seriously.

"The deadly March 19 attack in Istanbul... underscores the threat by Daesh (the Arab acronym for the Islamic State group) against tourist targets throughout Turkey, and proves high capabilities of carrying out further attacks," the Counter-Terrorism Bureau said in a statement.

"Terrorist infrastructures in Turkey continue to advance additional attacks against tourist targets including Israeli tourists throughout the country," it added.

This was the second time in as many weeks that Israel has updated its travel advisory on Turkey. Following the March 19 bombing, it updated the travel warning from an "ongoing potential threat" to "basic concrete threat."

Turkey has suffered several terror attacks in the past several months, some claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, others by Kurdish separatists. Israel itself has been mired in a fresh wave of violence since October, which claimed the lives of 28 Israelis and about 190 Palestinians.

Shortly after the Istanbul attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israeli and Turkish authorities are looking into whether it was specifically targeted Israelis, but so far no confirmation of this was given.

Israel and Turkey showed unusual closeness following the attack, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan making a phone call to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to offer his condolences over the death of the Israelis.

It was the first time in three years that Erdogan spoken with an Israeli official, after a six-year chill in bilateral ties.

Relations between the countries have been on the rocks since 2010, after nine Turkish citizens on board a flotilla to the Gaza Strip were killed by Israeli soldiers.

By Robert Muriisa.

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