Turkey humiliates expelled Israeli ambassador; Israel responds in kind

After Turkish officials subjected an expelled Israeli envoy to a strict security check at the Istanbul airport, Israel summoned a Turkish diplomat to the Foreign Ministry, where he received similar treatment.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In an exchange of insulting gestures, Turkey and Israel subjected each other’s diplomats to public security checks that are normally not carried out on government officials, inviting the media to record and broadcast the proceedings.

First, Eitan Na’eh went to the airport Wednesday after being told to leave Turkey following Monday’s violence at the Gaza-Israel border that allegedly resulted in some 60 Palestinian deaths and 2,700 injuries, infuriating President Recep Erdoğan. Before getting on his plane, however, he had to pass through Turkish security, which made sure to pat him down, take off his shoes and have a scan of his hands — all in front of a pre-invited Turkish media corps.

“This was a deliberate humiliation,” an Israeli political source stated, according to Kan News. “The journalists were invited to the field and put into the sterile area of the Turkish Airlines flight, where a security check is carried out just before boarding the plane.”

In retaliation, the Israeli press was invited to the Foreign Ministry when the Turkish charge d’affairs in Tel Aviv was summoned “for a dressing down,” as the ministry put it in a statement. The media then filmed Umut Deniz’s entrance to the building, where a security guard checked his passport and diplomatic documents and subjected him to a security screening.

President Recep Erdoğan initiated the series of confrontations by recalling Ankara’s ambassador to Israel on Monday, claiming that because the IDF killed violent rioters Israel is “a terror state” that has committed “a genocide.” Once he demanded that Na’eh be ejected, however, Jerusalem in turn expelled Turkey’s consul-general in Jerusalem, Hüsnü Gürcan Türkoğlu, who was “requested to return to his country for consultation for a certain period of time,” according to the Foreign Ministry spokesman.

This wording exactly mirrored the language used by Turkey when asking Israel’s ambassador to temporarily leave.

In a tit-for-tat move, Turkish officials on Tuesday night then ordered the exit of Israel’s consul general in Istanbul, Yossi Levi Sfari, with Erdoğan keeping up the nasty rhetoric by saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the one with “blood on his hands.” Hamas, according to the Turkish president, “is not a terror organization, nor are the Palestinians terrorists.”

In an interview with Ynet, Minister of Transportation and Intelligence Yisrael Katz reacted by calling Erdoğan the “enemy” and recommended that Israelis not travel for pleasure to Turkey for the time being.