Israel advises citizens to avoid Turkey amid fiery Gaza protests
JERUSALEM - Reuters
A fresh protest was staged in front of Israeli Consulate in Istanbul in the early hours of July 19. (AA photo)Israel advised its citizens on July 19 not to travel to Turkey, citing "the public mood" after heated protests there against Israel's ground offensive into Gaza.
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said Israelis should "avoid non-essential visits" to Turkey - once Israel's closest regional ally - or be especially vigilant and steer clear of anti-Israel demonstrations.
The travel advisory could affect commercial air connections between Tel Aviv and Istanbul, expanded in recent years as the two countries sought to rebuild relations.
Israel said on July 18 it would pare back already an reduced staff at its embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul, scenes of furious street protests at Israel's escalation of its Gaza
offensive into a ground invasion.
It accused Turkish police of not doing enough to protect its diplomats and Islamist-rooted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of incitement after he accused Israel of terrorizing the region.
Relations with Turkey reached a nadir in 2010, when Israeli commandos stormed the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara sailing as part of a flotilla challenging the Jewish state's naval blockade of Gaza. Ten people were killed.
Palestinians say some 300 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Gaza by an offensive that Israel says aims to stop cross-border rocket fire by the coastal enclave's dominant Hamas Islamists and other militants. Two Israelis, a soldier and a civilian, have also died.
Israel’s Lieberman slams Turkey over embassy protests
Meanwhile, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has slammed Turkey’s handling of the protests in Ankara and Istanbul, in a diplomatic spat over the Jewish state’s assault on Gaza.
Lieberman accused Turkey of not taking the "necessary preventative measures" to stop protests getting violent after people angered by the offensive in Gaza tried to storm Israeli embassy buildings.
"Israel protests strongly against the flagrant violation of diplomatic rules by Turkish authorities and security forces during demonstrations after the inflammatory statements of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan," Lieberman said in a statement late July 18.