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Israel Rescues Stranded Israelis from Turkey

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz announces 2,000 Israelis have been brought home; Israel to 'make an accounting' with Turkish Airlines.
By Uzi Baruch, Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 7/25/2014, 8:17 AM / Last Update: 7/25/2014, 9:00 AM

Airplane (illustrative)
Airplane (illustrative)
Flash 90

Israel has assisted more than 2,000 Israelis stuck in Turkey, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) announced Friday, after a worldwide flight ban bandwagon has left tens of thousands stranded in regional airports.

Katz wrote that the 2,000 Israelis have been successfully moved to Athens, where they will be flown later today back to Israel.

Quoting the Torah principle "all of Israel is responsible for one another,"  Katz also vowed to "make an accounting" with Turkish Airlines over the stranded passengers.

"I will make an accounting with Turkish Airlines, who behaved shamefully," Katz stated.

On Thursday, the FAA lifted its two-day ban on US airlines flying into or out of Ben Gurion International Airport, Israel's only international hub. European airlines later followed suit. 

Israel had warned of the economic impact of the ban by many world airlines and said that it would be a win for Hamas, who hailed the suspension as a "great victory."

Turkey's national carrier was originally slated to work with El-Al, Israel's national carrier, to help return stranded passengers home, after smaller carriers stopped flights to Ben-Gurion airport - but later, apparently, failed to lift its own ban as well. 

Overnight Thursday/Friday, El-Al conducted three special flights to Athens; another 'rescue flight' was sent by Arkia. The Ministry of Transport is scrambling to bring every Israeli stranded in Turkey home before Shabbat.

Anti-semitism has skyrocketed in Turkey since Israel launched its self-defense operation against Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, which is now in its eighteenth day. 

Israeli tourists in Turkey told Arutz Sheva reporters Thursday that they had been ordered to leave their hotel in the middle of their vacation and return home by the hotel staff, who unceremoniously booted them from the establishment due to their nationality. Arutz Sheva has not been able to locate the stranded tourists since and it is unclear whether they have made it home to Israel as of Friday morning.