Turkey seeks explanation for Israel violation
Hercules C-130 Israeli military transport planes fly off the coast of Haifa, in northern Israel, during a military display in this file photo. AFP photoTurkey and Turkish Cypriots accused Israel of violating the airspace of Turkish Cyprus in a controversial oil and gas exploration area yesterday and sought an explanation over the incident.
A senior foreign ministry official expressed Turkey’s reaction over the airspace violation to Yosef Levi Sfari, chargé d’affair of the Israeli Embassy in a telephone conversation yesterday. The Israeli diplomat took note of the Turkish reaction but did not offer an explanation.
An Israeli aircraft violated the Turkish Cyprus airspace five times on May 14 before Turkish fighter jets chased the intruder out, a Turkish high command said in a statement, Agence France-Presse reported.
“A plane belonging to Israel, the model of which could not be identified, violated KKTC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) airspace (above its territorial waters) five times,” the military said in a notification posted on the Chief of General Staff’s official web site.
“In response to this situation, our 2XF-16 plane based at İncirlik was scrambled and our planes carried out patrol flights in KKTC airspace, preventing the said plane from continuing to violate KKTC airspace,” said the statement.
Turkish Cyprus warns Israel
Meanwhile, Turkish Cyprus President Derviş Eroğlu’s Special Advisor Kudret Özersay had warned and protested Israel for the violation of its air space in a phone conversation with Israel’s Ambassador in the Greek Cypriot administration Michael Hariri yesterday, Anatolia news agency reported.
Israel and Greek Cyprus have both discovered huge offshore natural gas deposits beneath the Mediterranean Sea between them, and have tentatively discussed cooperation on delivering gas to European and Asian markets. The drilling for gas and oil in the seabed off Cyprus which began last year angered Turkey, which says it abuses Turkish Cypriots’ rights to the same resources.
Ankara has in turn approved Turkey’s state-run oil firm to carry out oil and gas exploration in six offshore areas around northern Cyprus, drawing condemnation from the Greek Cypriot government, which lays claim to the territory. Relations between former allies Turkey and Israel have fallen apart since Israeli commandos raided the Mavi Marmara aid vessel in May 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip and killed nine Turks in clashes with pro-Palestinian activists.