Putting Turkey’s Overtures to Israel in Context

Within the next few weeks, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog is expected to travel to Istanbul to meet with his Turkish counterpart, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Israeli officials have described this visit as signaling warmer relations between the two countries, despite Erdogan’s longstanding and forceful criticisms of the Jewish state. Ruthie Blum argues that this effort is misguided, noting, among other things, Turkey’s condemnation of the Abraham Accords. To illustrate her point, Blum notes the recent imprisonment of an Israeli couple vacationing in Turkey, who “were slapped with the bogus charge of espionage for taking a photo of the presidential palace.”

Immediately before their detention, the husband and wife from Modi’in had made a video lauding their holiday venue. “Turkey is fun. It’s safe. You can speak Hebrew freely here; . . . . they love us. Come on over,” they said on camera with great cheer.

Since the harrowing ordeal, they’ve changed their view of the country and its “safety” for Israelis. Their government should do the same when it comes to trusting Erdogan.

Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spent days appealing to Erdogan to intervene. Each begged him to persuade Turkish law enforcement to release the Oknins from custody, on the grounds that they weren’t Mossad agents. But Erdogan excels at capitalizing on a crisis of his own making.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israel diplomacy, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security