Netanyahu says no evidence Istanbul blast targeted Israelis

Jerusalem, March 19: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late  he had no evidence that a deadly suicide bombing in central Istanbul had targeted Israelis.

Turkish media reported earlier that three Israelis and one Iranian were killed in today morning's blast. "We don't have any confirmation that the attack targeted Israelis," Netanyahu told media at the foreign ministry.


He added that tomorrow Israel would update its travel advice for Turkey, which hundreds of thousands of Israelis visit each year. He had not been in touch with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he said, but Israel was "in touch with Turkish authorities".

Israeli foreign ministry director general Dore Gold cancelled a trip to the United States to travel to Istanbul tomorrow, the ministry said.

Today, Israel sent two planes to Turkey to bring home citizens wounded in the bombing, the emergency medical service said. "The aim of the operation is to repatriate wounded Israelis as fast as possible," a Magen David Adom spokesperson said.

A foreign ministry spokesman said at least 11 Israelis were wounded in the attack, including two who were in a grave condition. Broadcaster CNN-Turk named the Israelis reported killed as Simha Siman Demri, 60, Yonathan Suher, 40 and Avraham Goldman, 70.

Turkey's deputy health minister had earlier named Simha Demri as one of the four people killed in the attack that also wounded 36 people. The attack targeted Istiklal Caddesi, a pedestrian thoroughfare that is usually crowded but was still relatively quiet when the bomber struck at around 11:00 am (local time).

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but pro-government newspapers blamed it on the Islamic State (IS) group.


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