Israel and Turkey Are Humiliating Each Other’s Diplomats Over Gaza Killings

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Turkey and Israel have found themselves in a diplomatic spat as the fallout over the killing of protesters in Gaza continues.

Turkish authorities expelled the Israeli ambassador from the country indefinitely on Tuesday. Seemingly not content with such a conventional diplomatic measure, Turkish authorities allowed the media to film them frisking the ambassador at the airport on his way home, Haaretz reported.

Ambassador Eitan Naeh was expelled from Turkey after at least 60 Palestinian protesters were shot dead by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip on Monday. Footage from Turkey showed him being made to remove his coat and shoes and undergoing a thorough pat-down by security officials.

Naeh’s airport experience—which the Israeli media has described as “humiliating”—has sparked a strange diplomatic tit-for-tat. In response, Israel’s Foreign Ministry summoned Turkey’s consul in Jerusalem, Husnu Gurcan Turkoglu, inviting Israeli media to document his arrival.

Turkey’s ambassadors to Israel and the U.S. have already returned to the country under orders from Ankara. Not to be outdone, Israel told the Turkish consul—who overseas relations with the Palestinians—to return home for “consultations.” Turkey replied by expelling Israel’s consul general in Istanbul.

Naeh was told it would be “appropriate” for him to return to Israel “for a while” after Monday’s bloodshed, marking one of the strongest international reactions to Israel’s suppression of demonstrations in the Gaza Strip. Protesters had gathered at the border fence to protest the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and ahead of Nakba Day on Tuesday, which marks the anniversary of the Palestinian exodus from Israel in 1948.

Israeli-Turkish animosity was on public display at all levels of government on Tuesday, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traded blows on Twitter.

During a trip to London, Erdogan branded Israel a “terror state.” Netanyahu responded on Twitter saying Erdogan is “among Hamas’s biggest supporters” who “well understands terrorism and slaughter.” Erdogan then called Israel “an apartheid state” and said Netanyahu “has the blood of Palestinians on his hands and can’t cover up crimes by attacking Turkey.”

“Want a lesson in humanity? Read the 10 commandments,” the Turkish president said. To which Netanyahu replied: “A man whose hands are stained with the blood of countless Kurdish citizens in Turkey and Syria is the last one to preach to us about combat ethics.”

While in London, Erdogan also accused Israel of conducting a genocide against the Palestinian people. “They are not committing this genocide for the first time,” he said, suggesting that recent events “have shown the ugly face of Israel.”

Israel’s nationalist Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, took to Twitter to urge Israelis to cancel holidays to Turkey, warning, “Israel will no longer hold back from defending its honor.”

Bennett also said he has asked the speaker of Israel’s Knesset to approve the recognition that Turkey committed a genocide against the Armenians in the 1910s. The Armenian Genocide is a thorny topic, with Turkey to this day denying responsibility for the deaths of some 1.5 million people over a two-year period.

Relations between the two countries have been strained for several years, mostly over Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. In 2010, Israeli commandos stormed a Turkish-operated passenger ship, the Mavi Marmara, that was attempting to breach Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, killing nine activists. As a result, the two countries broke off diplomatic ties, which were not re-established until 2016.





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