The Foreign Ministry has ordered families of diplomats in Turkey to leave the country immediately as anti-Israel rage boils over following the flotilla clash. The ministry said there is no sign of a break in diplomatic relations between the two nations, although Ankara has recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv.
Turkey has led the anti-Israeli broadside even before Israel stopped the flotilla from trying to reach the Hamas-controlled Gaza coast, where the Oslo Accords have retained Israeli sovereignty.
Ankara assisted the Muslim-based IHH organization that sponsored the flotilla with the aim of breaking the embargo on Hamas, which over the past several years has smuggled in to Gaza long-range missiles, hundreds of tons explosives, arms, ammunition and terrorists.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned before the flotilla began its voyage that Israel should allow it to reach Gaza and cancel the embargo against Hamas. “Tensions should be avoided and the siege on Gaza lifted,” he told reporters lat week. The Turkish government promised reprisals if the Israeli Navy were to stop the flotilla, and it has carried through on its vow with international media and diplomatic condemnations of Israel.
Similar to virtually every other country in the world, Turkey made no mention of the documented violence and lynch instigated by Muslim militants, many of them from Turkey.
“Turkey now is one of the sides in the Middle East conflict. It is quite clearly opposed to Israel,” said writer Sami Kohen, a veteran Turkish political analyst and columnist, quoted by the Christian Science Monitor. “This event is almost a climax in this shift.”
He added, “There is now more reason for Turkey to take a more active part in the events of the Middle East, since it has suffered personally from this attack. Now it can justify its anti-Israeli positions, which get a good deal of sympathy in the Arab and Islamic world.”
Turkey had been a diplomatic friend of Israel for two decades until last year’s Operation Cast Lead war against Hamas terrorists coincided with the changing diplomatic winds that have catapulted Iran into a position of possibly becoming dominant in the Middle East.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured) has simultaneously broken off participation in annual military drills with Israel while increasing defense ties with the Syrian-Iranian axis.
The country’s Today’s Zayman news site reported Tuesday that the government may even cancel defense contracts with Israel worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
However, the trade ties with Israel work both ways, and Turkey may not want to lose its benefits, at least not for the time being. Turkey has bought defense products from Israel, but the Jewish State in return imports military textiles from Ankara.
Turkey, a popular destination for Israeli vacationers, has suffered a sharp drop in Israeli tourism since the flotilla clash Monday. In addition, El Al and the Turkish airline Atlasjet have postponed the launching of new flights, using Atlasjet planes, between Istanbul and Ben Gurion International Airport.