Saturday, March 19, 2016

19-Mar-16: In human bomb attack today in Istanbul, numerous Israelis among the victims

Istiklal Street on much better days [Image Source: Wikipedia]
Headline reports of a human bomb terror attack in Istiklal Street precinct of central Istanbul today (Saturday) dominate the news tonight at the Sabbath ends. It's a popular area that we happen to know because one of our children lived nearby while completing his university studies a few years ago.

Hurriyet, a Turkish news source, says five people have been killed and 39 others injured.
All victims of the attack besides attacker were foreign nationals: Israeli citizens Simha Siman Demri, Yonathan Suher, Avraham Godman and Iranian Ali Rıza Khalman. Turkish Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu said 39 people, including 24 foreign nationals and a child, were injured, and seven of the victims in hospitals were in critical condition... In a later statement, the Health Ministry said six Israeli, one German, one Icelander, one Iranian, two Irish citizens and one Dubaian were receiving treatment at hospitals. [Hurriyet Daily News today]
Ma'an News Agency says six of the Israeli injured
were identified by Palestinian member of Israel's Knesset Ayman Odeh as Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.
The New York Times says, quoting Turkey’s health minister, that twelve of the wounded are foreign citizens. Times of Israel says eleven Israelis are among the wounded, meaning they make up almost all the foreign victims.

There's reason to think not all the relevant details have yet emerged. As the Hurriyet report says:
The pedestrian street was completely sealed off after the attack. Turkey's Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) imposed a temporary ban on broadcasting pictures and video footage from the scene of the attack. According to a statement from the board, the ban includes live broadcasts from the blast site, footage from the time the blast took place and afterwards, and showing images of bodies.
On the CNN-Turk website, there is an extraordinary Turkish-language report (thanks to Google Translate) headlined "Be careful what you share after the terrorist attacks" (archived here in case it disappears later):
Internet Development Board Chairman Serhat Özeren, warning citizens about the shares held through social media, "especially the shared visual and interpretation of the terrorist attacks of terrorist attacks should be noted that the propaganda tools," he said. Özeren said in a statement to reporters, social media in emergency situations drawing attention to become a disinformation source, "Please note that this kind of sharing makes people and institutions to be reliable," he said... [T]he terrorist attacks of shared visual and comments should be noted that instruments of propaganda for a terrorist attack. Citizens information resources in these shares and must pay attention to the reliability of the information." 
Nonetheless there is now security camera footage of the human bomb and the seconds leading up to the explosion here. (The media blackout was called off by Friday evening, according to a WSJ report.)

Times of Israel says ten Israelis in the vicinity are unaccounted for. It says two Magen David Adom ambulance planes were due to leave Israel at 6:30 pm this evening for Istanbul to bring the Israeli victims back home for emergency medical treatment. The general director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, is due to fly there tomorrow "in coordination with Turkish authorities".

It's possible he will be consulting with them about a public statement issued immediately after today's blast via Twitter by an AKP (Justice and Development) Party public relations specialist, İrem Aktaş:
The official from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party tweeted that she “wished the Israelis” who were said to be wounded in Saturday’s Istanbul suicide blast were dead. [Jerusalem Post today]
It has gotten considerable attention in Turkey:

As we have learned, terrorism tends to evoke strikingly different responses from people depending on who they are, the extent of their faith in acts of savagery and the ideas that guide their lives. Ms Aktaş and her obsessive focus on Israelis even as her own country struggles with terrorist barbarism on its streets are part of a much larger problem that is not specifically Turkish.

Were Israelis the target of today's terror attack? A Jerusalem Post article suggests the question is being asked.


No comments: