Turkey has summoned Israel’s chargé d'affaires in Ankara for a reprimand meeting after Tel Aviv refused entry to seven Turkish nationals.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry summoned Israel's temporary envoy in Ankara, Amira Oron, on Friday to protest against the incident. The reprimand meeting is to be held on Monday.
On Thursday, Israeli forces detained nine Turkish citizens, including journalists and activists, at the Ben-Gurion International Airport and questioned them for about nine hours.
The Israeli forces then granted entry to two of the journalists, both from TRT national television channel, and deported the seven others.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a written statement on Friday, “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.”
Israel accuses the deported Turkish nationals of having links with the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas. However, according to the statement, they had flown to Israel only to attend a Ramadan fast-breaking dinner with a group of Palestinians.
According to Turkey’s Hürriyet Daily News, Halime Kökçe, one of the deported journalists, had earlier posted messages on her Twitter account saying that Israeli officials confiscated their cell phones and questioned them about their WatsApp conversations and contacts.
“They questioned us individually,” Hürriyet quoted her as saying, adding that they were told they had been banned from entering Israel for 10 years.
Relations between Ankara and Tel Aviv worsened after Israeli forces attacked Turkish Gaza-bound aid ship Mavi Marmara in international waters in May 2010 and killed nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists on board. The incident led to the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador in Turkey in September 2011.
Israel, however, restored relations with Turkey in March 2013 after US President Barack Obama brokered a deal in which he advised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize to Turkey for the deaths of the activists. The deal also called on the Tel Aviv regime to pay compensation to the families of the victims.