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      Turkey Helps Israel Keep Illegal Aliens Out

      Despite tension, Israel and Turkey continue to cooperate - and on Tuesday, Turkey helped Israel keep 97 illegals from coming here.
      By David Lev
      First Publish: 9/27/2011, 10:23 PM

      Ben Gurion Airport
      Ben Gurion Airport
      Flash 90

      While Israel's relationship with Turkey has certainly seen better days, the two countries continue to cooperate in a number of important areas. On Monday, for example, it was reported that trade between the two countries was up was up 26% during the first ten months of 2011 compared to the previous year. And on Tuesday, the Interior Ministry reported that, thanks to cooperation with Turkey, the entry into Israel of 97 illegal immigrants was prevented.

      The Ministry said that the group of illegals were bound to Israel from the Ivory Coast – via Turkey, which the had traveled to in an unusual entry point for illegal aliens. The group presented itself as a Christian pilgrim group, but the Ministry said that it had specific information that they were planning to enter Israel on tourist visas and get “lost” in the communities of African workers that have sprung up here in recent years.

      The Ministry asked Turkish officials for assistance, and the latter prevented members of the group from getting on the plane in Ankara. “An unpleasant situation was avoided thanks to intelligence that we gathered and cooperation with Turkey,” a Ministry official said Tuesday, citing also the assistance of travel agents as well. The group will be repatriated to their home country, the official said.

      While most illegal Africans in Israel come from northern Africa, including countries like Sudan and Eritrea, the past year has seen a sharp increase in attempts by residents of the Ivory Coast to enter Israel, as well as to reach Europe, because of a bitter civil war that is being fought  in the country. So far, some 1,500 people have been killed as two competing presidents – and their backers – fight for leadership of the country.