The Foreign Ministry spokesman in Jerusalem Emmanuel Nahshon said that Israeli nationals had been killed and critically injured in the suicide blast that hit Istanbul Saturday, March 19. He did not confirm the deaths of Simcha Damahi, 60, from Dimona, Jonathan Suher and Avraham Godman. Another 11 Israelis were injured, three are in dangerous condition and six are still unaccounted for..
A Magen David ambulance plane flies to Istanbul Saturday night to bring the injured Israelis back.
The blast occurred shortly before 11 a.m. on Saturday just off Istiklal Caddesi, Istanbul’s main pedestrian shopping street, which stretches south from Taksim Square. At least five people were killed in the explosion and 36 injured, many of them foreign nationals, including the members of an organized Israeli group on a four-day culinary tour of Turkey.
Turkish authorities have imposed a blackout on the identity of the suicide bomber and any organization that may have been behind the attack. Ankara has by and large accused Turkish separatists, the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) and TAK of responsiblity for the recent spate of terrorist attacks, the latest of which hit the capital Ankara less than a week ago, leaving 37 dead. At the same time, the Islamic State may have been responsible this time.
According to Turkish media, the bomber was a Turkish national called Savas Yildiz, 33, from Adana, who had known links with the Islamic State.
Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu said in a special briefing Saturday night that Israel is in contact with the Turkish authorities to find out if the attack aimed at targeting Israelis.
Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold flies from Washington to Istanbul Sunday both to lead the consulate’s arrangements for the Israeli victims and for an exchange of intelligence with Turkish intelligence authorities.