By Mustafa Deveci and Turgut Alp Poyraz
Israel has denied entry to 90 Turkish citizens on the ground that they did not have visas, a Turkish tour operator said on Sunday.
Mustafa Bickioglu, a representative of the Turkey-based Sila Tour company, told Anadolu Agency that Israeli police did not allow entry to the Turkish citizens after they arrived at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport; the tourists were planning to visit Jerusalem.
Bickioglu rejected the visa condition claim and said the tour company had in fact received a collective visa for the group.
“Israel does not provide separate visas for each passenger to tour companies that bring tourists to Jerusalem,” he explained.
“The document issued by the consulate works as a visa for all passengers.
“We had received a visa letter in Hebrew for our passengers for travel on our Jerusalem tour but our 90 passengers were not allowed to enter Israel for allegedly not having visas.”
He said 15 passengers were later sent back to Istanbul while another 33 were expected to be deported. The other passengers will be deported -- depending on seat availability -- the following day, he added.
One of the tourists, Sumeyra Sevgulu Haciibrahimoglu, who is a 23-year-old masters student, told Anadolu Agency that Israeli officials had treated them as fugitives.
“After questioning some of our friends in the security inquiry room, we were taken to different rooms in groups,” she said.
“Some of the families among us wanted to be in the same room but Israeli police rejected this request,” she added.
Haciibrahimoglu said she went to Israel to visit al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
“The only dream of the group that consists of mainly young people was to see Jerusalem,” she added.
Turkey’s embassy in Tel Aviv is in contact with passengers and is closely following the issue.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.