Jewish State Probing Whether Istanbul Bomb Targeted Israelis

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Amos Ben Gershom/Getty

TEL AVIV – Israel is investigating whether the suicide bombing that killed three Israeli tourists in Istanbul specifically targeted the Israelis, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday night.

“We are of course trying to get intelligence on whether the terror attack was targeted against Israelis,” Netanyahu said at a press conference Saturday evening hours after the attack, which left at least five people dead and another 36 injured, including 11 Israelis.

Yoram Schweitzer, the former head of the IDF’s International Counter Terror Desk, told Breitbart Jerusalem that it was “highly unlikely” the attack was directed at Israelis.

However, Schweitzer, who also serves as a consultant on counter-terror strategies to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Defense, said that Netanyahu’s estimation that the suicide bombing was carried out by an Islamic State operative may be correct.

“[The bombing does] not contradict IS’s MO,” wrote Schweitzer in an email to Breitbart Jerusalem. “IS will not shy away from suicide bombing or from hitting civilians in general in the heart of cities nor from aiming at tourists.”

Israel and Turkey are attempting to restore frayed relations since ties between the two countries were cut five years ago.

Netanyahu broke his silence and offered condolences for an attack in Ankara earlier in the month.

The Director of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, cut short a trip to an AIPAC conference in Washington to fly to Istanbul to meet with Turkish officials, marking the first visit to Turkey by a high ranking Israeli in years.

Though Israeli officials have been in constant contact with their Turkish counterparts following the attack, no words have been exchanged between Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Netanyahu was also reluctant to say whether the attack will help advance Israeli-Turkish reconciliation. Netanyahu noted that Israel has been in “regular contact with Turkey in recent months, it’s no secret, even in the past few days,” but that a reconciliation is not immediately on the horizon “because of fundamental differences we are trying to agree on. There has been some progress and I hope that we will continue to make progress.”

Schweitzer added that the mistrust between the two governments will likely prevent any close security cooperation of the type they once enjoyed. Nevertheless, he added, the current regional and global climate may mean that Turkey and Israel’s common interests will “bridge those obstacles for concrete cooperation.”

Meanwhile Ynetnews reports that DNA testing done in Turkey on Sunday confirmed that the terrorist who committed the deadly suicide bombing in Istanbul was Mehmet Ozturk, who reportedly had ties to the Islamic State, Turkish news agency Doğan reported.

Turkish authorities took DNA samples from Ozturk’s family and compared it to remains found at the site of the bombing.