Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Eitan Naeh was subjected to special security checks in Istanbul Wednesday, after the Turkish government ordered him out of the country amid rising tensions with Israel.
On Tuesday, Turkey announced it was expelling Naeh, following Israel’s use of force to defend the border with Gaza, after tens of thousands of rioters attempted to breach Israel’s security fence.
Turkey later ordered Israel’s consul general in Istanbul ,Yosef Levi Sfari, out of the country as well.
According to Turkey’s Anadolu media outlet, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry ordered the Israeli consul general out of the country “for a period of time,” AFP reported.
Before Naeh boarded a plane back to Israel at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, the ambassador was subjected to what Israel’s Foreign Ministry described as a “harsh” security check.
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.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Erdogan accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of having blood on his hands.
“Netanyahu is the PM of an apartheid state that has occupied a defenseless people’s lands for 60+ yrs in violation of UN resolutions. He has the blood of Palestinians on his hands and can’t cover up crimes by attacking Turkey,” Erdogan tweeted.
Netanyahu later fired back, saying, “A man who sends thousands of Turkish soldiers to hold the occupation of northern Cyprus and invades Syria will not preach to us when we defend ourselves from an attempted infiltration by Hamas.”