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Israelis Detained for 90 Minutes at Istanbul Airport

Dozens of Israeli businessmen were separated from non-Israelis, surrounded by police and their passports taken.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 9/5/2011, 10:32 AM

Turkish authorities held up dozens of Israeli businessmen for about 90 minutes Monday at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport. Arutz Sheva has learned that the businessmen left Israel on a Turkish Airlines flight before dawn. When they arrived in Istanbul, their passports were collected from them. 

Businesswoman Hayuta Leibovich, who was among those detained, told Arutz Sheva: "We arrived in a regular flight that was made up exclusively of businessmen. When we reached passport control, at a certain point they called all the Israelis and concentrated them as a group at a corner of the terminal. Our passports were taken and we could not enter, simple as that.

"After we got over the initial shock and realized what was happening, the guys started calling various people. Some had a connection to the consulate, others called the Foreign Ministry Situation Room, and after almost two hours during which we stood there in the fenced-off corner, our passports were given back to us, and at this moment we are standing in the regular line for stamping passports like everyone else.

"An insane number of police entered; there were two policemen for every one of us. I do this route every six weeks.I have been flying to Turkey for ten years and nothing like this has ever happened; it is an escalation," she said, and assessed that the tension between Jerusalem and Ankara was to blame.

Voice of Israel Radio said that the Israeli Foreign Ministry contacted the Turkish Foreign Ministry and was told that Turkey had not ordered the businessmen's harassment. Leibovich said that the situation at the airport flooded her with "a ghetto feeling" and reminded her of the 1976 Entebbe hostage situation, in which Israelis and other Jews were separated from other passengers.