The horrifying suicide bombing that rocked a shopping center in Istanbul on Saturday came as a shock to many in the West and in Israel.
But few in Turkey were surprised by the attack, says Eyal Peretz.
Peretz who heads Arkadash, an organization representing the Turkish Jewish community in Israel spoke to Arutz Sheva about the great fears across Turkey ahead of the attack in Istanbul.
Peretz, who was staying in a Jewish neighborhood in the city of Izmir – home to the second largest Jewish community in Turkey – at the time of the attack in Istanbul told Arutz Sheva that most people in Turkey had anticipated a major attack in Istanbul.
“This is what everyone was talking about on the street,” said Peretz. “Everyone talked about how a terror attack was about to happen.”
“Malls that should be full of people were empty,” he said. “The level of tension was very high [ahead of the Istanbul attack]. Everyone talked about how after the attack in Ankara last week, there was bound to be another one in Istanbul.”
Peretz has deep ties with Turkey, both in his capacity as head of Arkadash, and as a consultant advising Israeli companies doing business with Turkey, frequently traveling to Turkey both for business and as a leader of the Turkish Jewish community in Israel.
Speaking of the roughly 15,000 Jews still living in Turkey, Peretz remarked that “the Jews there live in fear, but they do have protection for their institutions and synagogues.”
Regarding relations between the former allies, Peretz was hopeful that Israel and Turkey can restore friendly relations.
“Any agreement that can normalize relations between Israel and Turkey will be good for the Jews in Turkey and good for Israel. An agreement with Turkey is important politically, militarily, and economically.”
Despite Saturday’s bombing attack, Peretz insisted he would continue to travel to Turkey.
“I’ll continue to fly there and strengthen the Jewish community, and I hope that the [diplomatic] tensions [between Israel and Turkey] will end soon and an agreement will be reached with Turkey.”