Latest Diplomatic Incident With Turkey Jeopardizes Talks

ISTANBUL (Reuters) -

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said that it summoned the highest-ranking Israeli diplomat in Ankara to explain why a group of Turkish journalists and civil society workers were refused entry at Ben Gurion Airport.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that seven Turkish citizens were denied entry for security reasons.

The incident occurred three days after diplomats from Israel and Turkey, both U.S. allies, held talks to explore prospects of repairing their relationship after a Turkish election earlier this month.

A group of nine Turks had travelled to Israel on Thursday to attend an event marking Ramadan, the Foreign Ministry said in an e-mailed statement.

They were questioned for nine hours and, despite having the required visas, seven of them were sent back. Two journalists with the state TRT broadcaster 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.

An official from Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, said those denied entry were suspected of having links to Hamas.

“In light of a connection found between them and activists from the Hamas terrorist organization and the risk created by their entrance to Israel, it was decided not to let them in,” the official said.