Turkey claims it chased Israeli jet out of Northern Cyprus

Ankara says it scrambled fighter jets after IAF plane entered area being explored for gas and oil

An Israel Air Force F-16 (photo credit: Ofer Zidon/Flash90)
An Israel Air Force F-16 (photo credit: Ofer Zidon/Flash90)

Turkey on Thursday accused Israel of violating the airspace of Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus five times earlier this week, in an area which reportedly is the site for oil and gas exploration.

According to Turkish media reports Thursday, the Israeli aircraft flew over the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus between 11:05 a.m. and 12:49 p.m. local time on Monday, and Turkish fighter jets had to chase out the Israeli jet, the Turkish army said in a statement.

The Turkish news website Famagusta Gazette reported that the army statement gave no other details about the incident and did not identify the type of Israeli plane involved.

The reported incident is not the first time Turkey has accused Israel of violating its airspace. Last September, Turkey also alleged that Israeli planes flew over natural gas reserves near Cyprus, and even approached a Turkish seismic research ship in the area.

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is a self-declared state located on the northeastern part of the island of Cyprus that has no international recognition other than by Turkey. The international community regards the area as occupied territory belonging to the Republic of Cyprus.

Turkish-Israeli relations have been strained since Israel’s maritime raid of the Mavi Marmara Gaza flotilla ship in 2010, during which nine Turkish citizens were killed.

In April, Turkey reportedly blocked Israel’s participation in an upcoming NATO summit because Israel has not apologized for the deaths of those Turkish citizens.

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