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, Israeli Ambassador 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 Naeh boarded the plane as Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, the ambassador was subjected to what Israel’s Foreign Ministry described as a “harsh” security check.
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Turkish media outlets were invited by the Turkish government to film Naeh during the security checks in what appears to be a deliberate attempt to humiliate the Israeli ambassador.
Tensions between Ankara and Jerusalem escalated following the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem – a move Turkey’s government strongly opposed. Turkey also excoriated Israel over its use of force to prevent rioters from infiltrating into Israeli territory.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country hosts a number of Hamas leaders living in exile, denied on Tuesday that Hamas is a terrorist organization, calling the terror group a “resistance movement”.
“Reminder to Netanyahu: Hamas is not a terrorist organization and Palestinians are not terrorists. It is a resistance movement that defends the Palestinian homeland against an occupying power. The world stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine against their oppressors.”