Turkish Police Harass Israeli Passengers

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli passengers who landed at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul on Monday morning were rounded up, their passports confiscated, and interrogated by police. Several reported being strip searched.

"All we know at this is point is about 40 Israeli passengers were taken aside and questioned until their passports were returned about an hour and a half later," a Foreign Ministry spokesman told CBN News.

Israel is looking into the incident -- a first of its kind -- to determine its origin and implications for the future.

Most of the Israelis on board Flight 793 were business people who travel to Turkey regularly. All of them were herded into a room and questioned until their passports were returned.

Hayuta Leibovich told Arutz Sheva "an insane number of police entered. There were two policemen for every one of us," she said. 

"I do this route every six weeks," Leibovich said. "I have been flying to Turkey for 10 years and nothing like this has ever happened."

Another passenger told YNet News the police interrogated them one by one.

"They apparently got an order to detain us, one by one," he said, adding that "obviously this was done intentionally."

"They asked us why we came here, opened our bags, checked how much money we have and what we have on our laptops," he said.

Two men who have been doing business in Turkey for 13 years said police "spoke rudely and acted improperly." They had never seen officials "behaving with such disrespect."

Monday's incident follows Turkey's announcement to downgrade diplomatic, trade and military ties over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's refusal to apologize for last year's confrontation aboard the Turkish flagship Mavi Mamara in which nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed.

Netanyahu reiterated his position after the U.N.-commissioned Palmer Report affirmed the legality of Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip and supported the right of Israeli naval commandos to defend themselves against their attackers.

In response, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said they would appeal to the International Court of Justice and boost Turkey's presence in the Mediterranean.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he is planning a state visit to the Gaza Strip to strengthen ties with Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist faction ruling the coastal enclave.

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