Rage in Turkey; Israelis Warned to Stay Away
The Counterterrorism Bureau issued a statement Monday warning Israelis against travel to Turkey. The warning came as Arab media reported riots in the streets of Istanbul in response to the maritime clash with the Gaza-bound ships.
Israeli citizens who are already in Turkey were advised by the organization to remain near their place of residence, and to avoid city centers.
Israeli troops clashed early Monday morning with passengers on a flotilla heading to Gaza in defiance of Israel's naval blockade on the region. Troops attempted to divert the boats to Ashdod and were attacked by armed passengers, leading to clashes in which at least 15 passengers were killed and both soldiers and passengers were wounded. According to preliminary reports, most of the dead were Arabic-speaking Turkish citizens.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Istanbul on Monday afternoon to protest the incident. Protesters waved PLO flags, and many cried “Death to Israel.” Rioters attempted to storm the Israeli embassy, but were pushed back by police officers.
Jews living in Turkey told Israeli media that they sense real fear in the local Jewish community, more than during the riots that followed Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in early 2009.
Turkey's government has recalled its ambassador from Israel. A statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Monday termed the clash between the flotilla and Israel “unacceptable,” and accused Israel of “inhumane activities.” Turkey has also called off three scheduled joint military exercises with Israel.
“Israel will have to bear the consequences of its actions,” ministry spokesmen said.