Israel bringing diplomats home from Turkey after warning its citizens to leave

‘Temporary’ step comes after National Security Council urged all Israelis to leave Turkey ‘as soon as possible’ due to mounting anger over Israel-Hamas war

People take part in a protest outside the Israeli consulate to show solidarity with Palestinians, in Istanbul early on October 18, 2023. (Umit Turhan Coskun/AFP)
People take part in a protest outside the Israeli consulate to show solidarity with Palestinians, in Istanbul early on October 18, 2023. (Umit Turhan Coskun/AFP)

ANKARA, Turkey — Israel has recalled its diplomats from Turkey as a security precaution, a source close to the dossier told AFP Thursday, with the Jewish state having already advised citizens to leave.

“It’s a temporary measure, which should be for the short term,” said the source, who refused to be quoted by name.

The National Security Council late on Tuesday called on all Israelis in Turkey to leave “as soon as possible.”

On Wednesday, its consulate in Istanbul said it was for their own safety given the growing terrorist threats against Israelis abroad.

Israel arranged evacuation flights to repatriate citizens from Turkey, while issuing a travel warning of the highest threat level to the country.

The spike in security threats in Turkey came after a deadly explosion at a Gaza hospital parking lot on Tuesday, which has been blamed by Hamas and the Arab and Muslim world on Israel.

Jerusalem has produced evidence to refute the claim and show that the blast, which killed scores of people, was caused by a misfired rocket launched by a Palestinian terror group toward Israeli cities. The US, other Western countries and many analysts have confirmed or endorsed the Israeli account.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has joined many Arab countries in blaming Israel, straining diplomatic relations. Turkey’s foreign ministry also condemned “these barbaric attacks in the strongest terms,” in a statement issued shortly after the explosion.

Turkey maintains ties with Hamas, the terror group that slaughtered some 1,400 Israelis in an unprecedented assault from Gaza on October 7, plunging the region into war.

People lift placards and Palestinian flags during a protest in Libya’s capital Tripoli late on October 17, 2023, in support of Palestinians after a blast hit the parking lot of Ahli Arab hospital in central Gaza. (Mahmud Turkia/AFP)

On Tuesday night, shortly after the hospital blast, protesters demonstrated outside the Istanbul consulate and the embassy in Ankara, shouting pro-Palestinian chants. Dozens were hurt in clashes between police and protesters outside the consulate when several demonstrators tried to overcome security barricades in order to enter the consulate building. Police detained five people.

Ankara was previously involved in trying to mediate a deescalation of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

Turkey’s top diplomat Hakan Fidan said Tuesday that following requests from several governments, his country had been in touch with the Hamas terror group over some 200 Israeli and foreign hostages the terror group is holding in Gaza in the aftermath of its murderous onslaught on October 7, in which thousands of terrorists invaded Israel and massacred some 1,400 people, most of them civilians murdered in their homes or at an outdoor music festival.

On Monday, Fidan spoke with Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh on the phone about the possibility of the release of hostages.

“Our efforts continue, especially for the release of foreigners, civilians and children. We will continue our efforts to ensure lasting peace,” Fidan said on Tuesday.

The vast majority of the captives are civilians.

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