Israel withdraws its diplomats from Turkey due to security concerns: Turkish media

Protesters gathered outside the Embassy of Israel during a rally in support of the Palestinians in Ankara on October 18, 2023. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP)

Israel has temporarily called back all its diplomats from Turkey over security concerns in the wake of widespread anti-Israeli protests and sentiment in the country due to its attacks on the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, Turkish Minute reported, citing the T24 news website.

Ambassador Irit Lilian is among the Israeli diplomats who left Turkey on Thursday, according to reports.

Large crowds joined demonstrations in İstanbul and the Turkish capital of Ankara this week, shouting pro-Palestinian sentiments.

Israel has told its citizens to leave Turkey “as soon as possible” amid fears of reprisal.

Israel began pounding Gaza after Hamas militants carried out an unprecedented surprise attack in Israel on Oct. 7 that claimed more than 1,400 lives.

Israeli’s retaliatory strikes have taken the lives of at least 3,700 civilians in Gaza so far.

The Hamas-Israeli conflict came at a time when Turkey was just normalizing its relations with Israel after years-long tension.

Bilateral relations began to fray in 2008 following an Israeli military operation in Gaza.

Relations then froze in 2010 after the death of 10 civilians following an Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, part of a Turkish flotilla trying to breach a blockade by carrying aid into the Gaza enclave.

A brief reconciliation lasted from 2016 until 2018, when Turkey withdrew its ambassador and expelled Israel’s over the killing of Palestinians during a conflict with Gaza.

Following months of diplomatic warming, Israel and Turkey announced in August 2022 the full restoration of relations and the return of ambassadors to both countries.

Israel appointed Lillian as its ambassador to Turkey, while Turkey named Şakir Özkan Torunlar as its Israeli envoy.

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