Turkey-Israel row: Video of airport frisking deepens tensions

Turkey and Israel expel each other’s envoys in an escalating diplomatic dispute over killing of 62 Palestinians in Gaza.

A diplomatic row between Turkey and Israel following the Israeli army’s killing of dozens of Palestinians is showing no signs of slowing down amid reciprocal expulsions and heated exchanges.

In the latest episode, Israel protested on Wednesday over what it called Turkey’s “unbecoming treatment” of its expelled ambassador after he was shown on Turkish TV undergoing an airport security check in public view.

The previous day, Turkey had summoned Ambassador Eitan Naveh to tell him it would be “appropriate” for him to return to Israel “for a while”. In response, Israel ordered the Turkish representative in the country to return home for consultations.

Ankara’s move came as it condemned the killing of demonstrators in the Gaza Strip on Monday, as well as the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem on the same day.

At least 62 Palestinians, who rallied as part of the Great March of Return movement, were killed by Israeli forces during a protest near the fence with Israel. More than 2,700 others were wounded.

Accompanied by a personal security guard and several consulate officers, Naveh left for Tel Aviv from Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport at 08:30 GMT on a Turkish Airlines charter plane.

His security check was captured in a video that was aired on Turkish TV on Wednesday.


Later on Wednesday, Israel’s foreign ministry said in a statement that it had summoned the Turkish embassy’s charge d’affaires to protest the expelled ambassador’s security check.

Rights groups and activists have in the past accused Israeli airport staff of regularly violating Israeli law by subjecting Arab passengers, including Israel’s Palestinian citizens, to strip searches and other degrading procedures.

Twitter war of words

Naveh had only been in his post since December 2016, after a reconciliation deal earlier that year ended a dispute over the 2010 deadly storming of a Turkish ship by Israeli commandos that saw relations downgraded for more than half a decade.

Rhetoric was stepped up again recently, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing Israel of “state terror” and “genocide” over the killings in Gaza on Monday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit back at Erdogan, with a tweeted jibe in Hebrew saying that as a leading supporter of Hamas “there’s no doubt he’s an expert on terror and slaughter”.

Responding on Twitter in English on Tuesday, Erdogan, a candidate in Turkey’s upcoming presidential election, said: “Netanyahu is the PM of an apartheid state that has occupied a defenceless people’s lands for 60+ yrs in violation of UN resolutions”.

“He has the blood of Palestinians on his hands and can’t cover up crimes by attacking Turkey,” he added, suggesting that Netanyahu read the Ten Commandments if he wanted a lesson in humanity.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies