40 Israelis Held for Questioning at Turkish Airport
Forty Israeli passengers on a Turkish flight to Istanbul were held for an hour and a half upon arrival and questioned before being released, the Israeli foreign ministry said on Monday.
The incident came as tensions between the former allies reached new heights over a deadly May 2010 Israeli raid on a flotilla of ships that left nine Turkish citizens dead.
The Israeli foreign ministry said it had received an "unusual" complaint from one of the passengers involved, saying the Israeli passengers on the Turkish Airlines flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul had been singled out for questioning.
"It was a Turkish Airlines flight that landed in Istanbul, about 40 passengers were detained," deputy foreign ministry spokesman Ilana Stein told Agence France Presse.
"They were taken to separate rooms to be questioned. Their passports were taken. After about an hour and a half of waiting, they were questioned one by one and after that they got their passports back and then they were free to go."
Stein said the incident had been reported by a passenger and the details confirmed by the ministry. She said it would be investigated further before a decision was taken on whether to protest the treatment of the passengers.
Foreign travellers passing through Israel's Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv routinely face lengthy questioning and invasive searches by the Israeli security forces, prompting a steady stream of complaints.
Israel claims the searches are routine and a necessary procedure to ensure security.
The incident came as ties between Israel and Turkey frayed further over the deadly 2010 raid.
On Friday, Ankara said it was expelling Israel's ambassador to Turkey and suspending military agreements with the Jewish state in the wake of a U.N. report on the flotilla incident.
The report found Israel used excessive force in acting to stop the flotilla from breaching its naval blockade on Gaza, but ruled that the naval blockade itself was legal, angering Turkey and the Palestinians.