Israel is a country divided based on religious lines and at the center of it all is the Jews and Palestine. But despite their difference, Israel receives a large number of tourists who come to visit the historical sites in Israel. Among the tourists are Turks who favor visiting Jerusalem due to its rich history in Islamic. It’s in Jerusalem that the Haram al-Sharif and Al-Aqsa mosque are and their existence is of huge importance to Muslims.
But while Turks love visiting Jerusalem the recent development have created a conflict between them and Tel Aviv. First and foremost movement of the US embassy led to an increase in tourists from Jerusalem. Moreover, with Ankara urging more Turks to visit Jerusalem, this isn’t playing well with the authorities over at Tel Aviv. The developments led to a huge number of Turks developing an interest to visit Israel. Besides that, Turkey’s has clearly shown it’s in support of the Palestine who claim Israelites are occupying Jerusalem. But according to travel agents, tourists and activists Tel Aviv is hiding behind polices to vent its anger towards Turkey by oppressing its citizens. While in the past few years the two countries had started working together, the activist’s outcry contradicts mending of the relationships. Among the many restrictions placed on Turks, they are only allowed to travel to Israel only once a year.
Standard Should Be Applied
But according to Meryem Kaya, a representative from Turkish non-profit organization the Jerusalem Awareness Association to avoid restricting Turkish tourists from entering Israel Tel Aviv should put a standard measure in place at all airports. Furthermore according to their research, tourists of Turkish’s origin would love to visit Israel twice a year. This is because the tours in place only take four days and aren’t enough to visit all sites both cultural and historical. According to Kaya in 2018 only 43,343 tourists were able to make the maiden trip to Israel with 253 tourists being denied entry into Israel. Kaya said all the above while speaking about visa issues during the Anadolu Agency.
Turks are held at Airports
While other tourists aren’t subjected to these arbitrary rules, for Turk’s restrictions start immediately they land at the airport. According to Kaya the authorities come and pick anyone from a group of Turks traveling and hold them for hour’s right at the airport without any apparent reason. But in real sense, their main aim is to limit their freedom of movement. Furthermore, according to Kaya the statement from the authorities refuting the claims of the restrictions isn’t true at all. Due to the Turks being subjected to such restrictions Kaya association notes now Turks are afraid of traveling to Israel. Although some still get their visas approved the fear of being held at the airport prevents them from applying for the permits.
Turks are Defiant
Although Turks citizens know Tel Aviv has their movement on a scope, they aren’t holding back on making arrangements to travel to Israel. Aside from their visa’s being revoked those who get their applications approved might undergo the same predicament Ebru Özkan did during her trip. She was among 38 other tourists who had made their journey to Israel, but she was arrested upon arrival. According to Israeli authorities, she was in custody for helping terrorists and was taken to court. In a bid to push their agenda of restricting movement of Turkish citizens without being on the scope of the international community authorities claim individuals in custody were helping terrorists. For Özkan she was accused of the same taken to court but was acquitted after a few days. Her arrest and detention in June 2018 caused an uproar.
Travel Agencies are also affected
On the other hand, agencies acting as an intermediary in facilitating the Turks to travel to Israel also face challenges in processing documents for their clients. Reports have emerged that the agencies have to part with $15,000 dubbed collateral fee for every group of Turkish tourists coming in. And in case an unfortunate event occurs Israeli authorities confiscate the $15k. In addition to taking the fee, the tour organizers are banned from stepping foot in Israel for ten years after being deported. Besides that getting your cash back after a successful tour takes three months. Furthermore, on several occasions, staff working for these agencies are denied visas.
While Israeli authorities continue denying allegations that they are restricting Turkish citizens from visiting Israel support groups such as Ankara are at the forefront of commending Tel Aviv for such measures. Besides that, the Turkish citizens themselves are still submitting their applications for visas to visit the historical sites in Israel. Furthermore apart from worsening the relationship between the two countries the actions of Israel are slowly attracting the attention of the international community.