The Turkish Foreign Ministry announced on Friday that it summoned the highest-ranking Israeli diplomat in Ankara to learn why Israel has deported several Turkish journalists and civil society workers, after keeping them at Ben Gurion International Airport. Israel deported nine Turkish citizens Thursday, including journalists and activists, after holding them for over nine hours at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport. The incident took place three days after diplomats from both Israel and Turkey were holding talks to thaw the ties between the two countries. The relations between the pair soured after Israel killed 10 Turkish people on the Mavi Marmara aid ship that was trying to break the blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2010.
A group of nine Turks had traveled to Israel on Thursday to participate in an occasion marking Ramadan in Jerusalem, the Foreign Ministry said in an emailed statement. They were questioned for nine hours and, despite having the required visas, seven of them were sent back. Two journalists with the state broadcaster TRT were allowed in, it said, condemning the decision to eject the group. "To show our reaction to the treatment of our citizens and to receive an explanation, the Israeli charge d'affaires has been summoned to the Foreign Ministry," it said. The charge d'affaires is Israel's most senior official at the embassy.
Ülke TV Editor-in-Chief Hasan Öztürk, Özden Ayvaz and Hüseyin Günay from TRT News, Halime Kökçe from Star newspaper, Memur-Sen Vice Chairman Levent Uslu and four activists – Kemal Özdal, Dürdane Özdal, Fatih Bolcan and Sümeyra Bolcan – were detained at the airport. "We are under detention for six hours at the Ben Gurion Airport with a group of journalists and activists. They questioned us individually," Kökçe wrote on Twitter. She said in another tweet that Israeli officials confiscated the group's cellphones and quizzed them on their WhatsApp conversations and contacts. In a final tweet, Kökçe said the group had been informed they were being deported and had been banned from entering Israel for 10 years.