Turkish tourists were angered at being turned back upon arriving at Ben Gurion airport for lack of proper certification.
By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Israel’s decision to turn back dozens of Turkish tourists traveling in a tour group led the news in Turkey Monday.
The tourists were denied entry to Israel when they landed in Ben Gurion airport Sunday.
Initial reports were that 90 people had been denied, but the state-run Turkish Anadolu Agency later reduced the number to 72.
The Foreign Ministry explained in a statement that their rejection was due to their attempt to enter on false documents.
“According to the Immigration Authority, an Israeli (travel) agent forged the group visa. He was notified in advance that he would need to place a deposit for the group or it wouldn’t be allowed in. To bypass the Turkish airline’s ban on passengers without permits, he falsified the group visa.”
A representative of the Sila Tour Company that sent the group denied this outright, saying that they had received the document from the Israeli consulate.
“We had received a visa letter in Hebrew for our passengers for travel on our Jerusalem tour,” Mustafa Biçkioğlu told Anadolu.
One of the detained passengers complained to the Anadolu agency that Israeli security people at the airport had separated them into different rooms for questioning and didn’t allow family members to stay together. The tourists, she said, were mainly young people whose “only dream” was to see Jerusalem.
Biçkioğlu said that 48 passengers were deported the same day, while the rest were sent back to Istanbul on Monday.
Another Turkish national, Ebru Özkan, was also recently deported from Israel, but this was after having been arrested and indicted on security charges for having ties with the Hamas terrorist organization.
She was freed on July 15, reportedly at US President Donald Trump’s request because his administration is working towards the release of a US pastor, Andrew Bunson, who has been detained in Turkey for almost two years.