Turkey condemns deportation of its citizens, summons top Israeli diplomat

Turkey condemns deportation of its citizens, summons top Israeli diplomat

Turkey condemns deportation of its citizens, summons top Israeli diplomat

DHA photo

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has “condemned” the June 25 detention of nine Turkish citizens, including journalists and activists, by Israeli security units for nine hours and subsequent deportation of seven of them.

In order to convey Turkey’s reaction and demand for an explanation, the Foreign Ministry has summoned Israel’s Charge d’Affaires to the Embassy in Ankara, it said in a written statement on June 26.

“The Israeli authorities’ detention of our citizens at the airport for hours, not allowing their entrance to the country despite the fact they had valid visas, as well as the failure to make a satisfactory explanation for this attitude, cannot be accepted under any circumstances,” the Foreign Ministry stated. 

Turkey’s relations have been tense with Israel since nine Turks and one Turkish-American were killed and several other pro-Palestinian activists were wounded when Israeli commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010. The boat was part of a flotilla that was trying to break the ongoing blockade on Gaza. The relationship between the two countries has worsened since then, with both sides withdrawing their ambassadors and reducing their diplomatic representation in each other’s capitals.

Ülke TV editor-in-chief Hasan Öztürk, Özden Ayvaz and Hüseyin Günay from TRT News, Halime Kökçe from daily Star newspaper, Memur-Sen Vice Chairman Levent Uslu, and four activists - Kemal Özdal, Dürdane Ozdal, Fatih Bolcan and Sümeyra Bolcan - were detained on June 25 upon their arrival at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport. 

Everyone in the group apart from the two employees of state broadcaster TRT were sent back to Turkey, according to the Foreign Ministry statement, adding that the group had flown to Israel to attend a Ramadan fast-breaking dinner with a group of Palestinians. 

Earlier, Kökçe had posted messages on her Twitter account to say Israeli officials confiscated the group’s cell-phones and quizzed them about their WhatsApp conversations and contacts.

“We are under detention for six hours at the Ben Gurion Airport with a group of journalists and activists. They questioned us individually,” Kökçe wrote.

In a final tweet, she said the group had been informed that they were being deported and had been banned from entering Israel for 10 years.