Three Israelis were killed in a Saturday morning suicide bombing in Istanbul that wounded at least 36 others, Turkey’s deputy foreign minister confirmed on Saturday, Turkish media outlets reported.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said there were 11 wounded Israelis: two were in serious condition, two in moderate condition, six in light condition, and a wounded woman who was in surgery. Ten Israelis were considered missing hours after the attack, raising fears that more Israelis had died.The attack occurred on the city’s famous Istiklal Street, a popular tourist destination visited by many people on weekends. Among the wounded Israelis were members of two different tour groups, which apparently met on Istiklal Street just before the attack.
Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold decided to cut short his participation in the AIPAC Conference in Washington, DC, which is to begin on Saturday, and fly to Istanbul to visit the wounded. A plane carrying an MDA delegation landed in Turkey after 10 PM to help examine the wounded Israelis.
Washington said two Americans had been killed and a Turkish official said one victim was Iranian, suggesting that some of the dead may have had dual nationality.
Turkish officials said that evidence suggests that the bomber may have come from Islamic State or the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). According to the official, the suicide bomber planned to detonate in another crowded spot, but became anxious upon seeing police and triggered the bomb. By evening, video circulated on social media networks showing a suspicious individual walking around before the bomb exploded. A picture was also posted that purportedly showed the terrorist.
According to unconfirmed reports, the man in question, named as Savaş Yıldız, was linked to Islamic State. On Saturday evening, Turkish authorities arrested Yıldız’s father. Media reports said Yıldız was involved in attacks in Mersin and Adana in southern Turkey about a year ago before fleeing to Syria.
Turkish news agency Doğan reported that a blood sample had been taken for the father in order to compare his DNA to a body found at the scene of the bombing.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “there is information that this was an attack by a member of ISIS. But this is preliminary information. In cases like this, we cooperate with other countries’ intelligence agencies.” He added that there was no confirmation that the attack had targeted Israelis.
One of the missing was named as Simha Demri, 60, of Dimona, who was in Turkey on a culinary tour with her husband, Avi, who suffered moderate wounds to his legs and a punctured lung. He told Ynet that he did not know where his wife was. “We finished breakfast and started strolling down the boulevard,” he recalled. He said he had approached a store window to take a picture when he heard the explosion. “I was a little behind the group,” he said. “I couldn’t see my wife. The terrorist blew up perhaps four meters away from us. I have two broken legs and a punctured lung. I can barely talk and I don’t know where my wife is.” While Simha Demri was initially reported as one of the dead, the body believed to be hers was not immediately identifiable, and family members were on their way to Turkey by evening.
“Today’s attack in Istanbul has shown us once again that the international community as a whole should act in a resolute manner against the ignoble objectives of terrorist organisations,” said Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu after the bombing. “I would like to convey my condolences to the families of the Israeli citizens who lost their lives in the heinous attack which happened in Istanbul and to the people of Israel, and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded.”
A ZAKA delegation are on their way to Turkey to assist the victims of the attack
As Shabbat ended ZAKA began to prepare to send a delegation of the international unit to assist injured Israelis and to bring them to Israel, as well as to assist with more casualties injured in a suicide bombing.
The delegation departed Motzei Shabbos from Ben Gurion Airport to Turkey where they will be joined by local rescue teams.
Mati Goldstein, international unit commander of ZAKA speaking from the airport: “after Shabbat, we began organizing a team to head out to Turkey, our delegation consists of five volunteers. ZAKA has extensive experience in the international arena and we pray that the bodies will be released soon to be buried in Israel and the wounded transferred to Israel for medical treatment.”
ZAKA Chairman, Yehuda Meshi-Zahav said: “Zaka has extensive experience on the international level, with delegations of ZAKA attending major natural disasters and terrorist attacks around the world, ZAKA has also helped Turkey previously at a major attack and returned to Israel the Israelis who were killed. We are in contact with the Jewish community in Turkey to help in any mission required.”