JERUSALEM – The Israeli Defense Ministry on Tuesday announced that the March 19 terror attack in Istanbul was deliberately targeted at Israeli tourists.
Three Israelis were killed in the attack.
The decision reverses an earlier statement by the ministry that echoed the view of the Turkish government – that the attack was aimed at a popular tourist attraction and the group of Israelis who were killed happened to be there by coincidence.
The suicide bomber, a 24-year-old Turkish citizen, was identified by the Turkish government as an activist for the Islamic State terror group.
An Iranian citizen was also killed in the bombing. Thirty-six others, Israelis among them, were wounded.
In light of the ministry’s decision, the Senior Deputy to the Legal Adviser on Defense, attorney Yedidya Oron, decided to define the Istanbul bombings as a terror attack against Jews and recognize the Israeli casualties as victims of terrorism.
The decision means that the families of both the dead and the wounded are entitled to compensation from Israel’s welfare agency, the National Insurance Institute.
Two days after the attack, in which Simha Damri, Avraham Goldman, and Yonatan Shor were murdered, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Our intelligence agencies are working to find out whether the attack in Turkey was aimed against Israelis.” Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted the attack “was not aimed deliberately against Israelis.”
Israeli officials who went to Turkey to assist in bringing home the victims praised Turkish authorities’ handling of the situation.
Israel and Turkey have recently been negotiating for a resumption of full diplomatic ties after years during which relations all but collapsed due to Erdogan’s vitriolic attacks on the Jewish state. Erdogan’s criticism began while he was serving as the country’s prime minister.
In a rare display of warmth, Erdogan wrote a letter to his Israeli counterpart, President Reuven Rivlin, after the attack.
The bombing proved again that the international community must unite in its fight against terrorism, Erdogan wrote. The Turkish president said he was personally saddened to learn that Israeli citizens were killed and wounded in the attack.