Rivlin sends condolences to Erdogan for ‘cowardly, murderous’ bombing
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Rivlin sends condolences to Erdogan for ‘cowardly, murderous’ bombing

In wake of deadly Istanbul terror attack, president says Israeli-Turkish reconciliation ‘sends a strong message to the terrorists’

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin speaks at a press conference after a session of the EU Parliament in Brussels on June 22, 2016. (AFP Photo/John Thys)
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin speaks at a press conference after a session of the EU Parliament in Brussels on June 22, 2016. (AFP Photo/John Thys)

President Reuven Rivlin sent a letter of condolence to his Turkish counterpart in the aftermath of what he called a “cowardly, murderous” terror attack at an Istanbul airport Tuesday that killed at least 41 and injured more than 230.

Three suicide bombers opened fire on passengers in the international terminal at the Ataturk Airport on Tuesday night before detonating themselves.

The attack came hours after Israel and Turkey signed a reconciliation deal ending a six-year break in diplomatic relations.

“This cowardly, murderous act is an example of the most vitriolic hatred the like of which we are sadly seeing across our region and the entire world today,” Rivlin wrote to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the letter sent Wednesday, in which he also offered Israeli assistance in recovering from the attack.

“I take this opportunity to welcome the chance to renew our good relationship especially because our strengthened dialogue will greatly aid in our joint efforts against this threat, and because it sends a strong message to the terrorists that we will stand united against hatred.”

The daughter, right, of Siddik Turgan, a man who was killed in the June 28, 2016 Ataturk Airport attack, reacts as her father's coffin is carried during his funeral ceremony on June 29, 2016 in Istanbul. (Bulent Kilic/AFP)
The daughter, right, of Siddik Turgan, a man who was killed in the June 28, 2016 Ataturk Airport attack, reacts as her father’s coffin is carried during his funeral ceremony on June 29, 2016 in Istanbul. (Bulent Kilic/AFP)

Turkey had cut off already shaky diplomatic relations with the Jewish state in 2010 after nine Turkish citizens died during fighting with IDF commandos on a flotilla that was attempting to break through Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Seven soldiers were hurt in the fighting.

As Time magazine reported, Turkish commentator Mustafa Akyol tweeted that the timing of the Istanbul bombing, just after the reconciliation deal was signed in Jerusalem and Ankara, may not have been a coincidence — suggesting the attack could have involved anti-Israel undertones.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement Tuesday “strongly condemning” the attack.

“All civilized nations must stand together to fight the scourge of terrorism,” the statement said.

Israeli diplomats who were at the airport at the time of the attack were unharmed. The diplomats said that no Israeli tourists were among the victims taken to the hospital.

At least one Palestinian was confirmed killed and seven Palestinians injured in the attack. Among the other foreign nationals killed were people from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, China, Iran, Ukraine and Jordan, according to reports.

Israel’s embassy in Ankara condemned the attack and extended its condolences on Wednesday.

Passengers leave Ataturk airport in Istanbul on June 28, 2016 after two explosions followed by gunfire hit Turkey's biggest airport, killing 41 people and injuring hundreds more. (AFP PHOTO/OZAN KOSE)
Passengers leave Ataturk airport in Istanbul on June 28, 2016 after two explosions followed by gunfire hit Turkey’s biggest airport, killing 41 people and injuring hundreds more. (AFP/Ozan Kose)

Though no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, Turkish officials have said it appears to have been mounted by the Islamic State.

The airport, the third busiest in Europe, was up and running by Wednesday morning.

Even during the diplomatic chill, Israel was one of the busiest routes for Turkish Airlines, with 695,000 Israelis flying round trip with the airline in 2014 and eight daily flights on the Tel Aviv-Istanbul route.

A Turkish Airlines flight scheduled to depart from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport for Ataturk Airport on Wednesday afternoon was canceled, according to the airline’s website. Nine flights scheduled between Ben Gurion and Ataturk for Thursday show departure and arrival times on the airline’s website.

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