Turkey gives Israel deadline to free kidnapped Gaza activists - UPDATED

Davutoglu said, "We have clearly stated that we would review our ties with Israel if all Turks not released by the end of the day."

Turkey gives Israel deadline to free kidnapped Gaza activists - UPDATED

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday that Turkey would not leave its any single citizen to the mercy of anybody.

Speaking at a news conference at Ankara's Esenboga Airport at his arrival from the United States, Davutoglu said he conveyed Turkey's determination to the United States saying, "we will review the relations with Israel as a whole in case this country fails to free Turkish citizens till Wednesday evening."

Families of the aid activists have gathered at the airports in Istanbul to welcome them.

Davutoglu said 210 citizens have so far returned to Turkey, indicating that transfer of the citizens still continue. "a THY plane, two CASA type Turkish Air Forces plane and a plane belonging to Health Ministry are kept ready in the airport. Turkish and foreign passengers will be brought to Istanbul. The bodies will be brought to Istanbul and injured to Ankara."

Davutoglu said identities of three bodies were revealed and that only a credit card was found on the fourth people. "two citizens are seriously injured and unable to move. Those people will stay there and a Turkish doctor will stay there for them."

He said Israel also assured Turkey it would not put on trial any of the hundreds of Turks it kidnapped after attacking the aid ships on internationa waters Monday.


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"Being a NATO member, we expected solidarity from the United States and it did. This country has a very close relationship with Israel. However, I very clearly expressed Turkey's determination. I said we will review relations with Israel in case Israel fails to release all our citizens till Wednesday evening. I have explained them the steps Turkey plans to take at the first stage and requested them to become a part," Davutoglu said.

"All citizens of foreign countries will be set free."

"No one has the right to try people who were kidnapped in international waters," Davutoglu added.

It was not clear when or how all the estimated 400 Turks on the aid ships would arrive home.


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Davutoglu also called Wednesday for an international commission to investigate the nine deaths in the Israeli commando raid on the flotilla.

"Israelis safe in Turkey"

Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay said on Wednesday that no harm was done to any Israeli during protests staged in Turkey against Israeli navy's attack on ships carrying aid to Gaza.

Atalay added that measures were taken in 20 districts in Istanbul.


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None of the Israeli people in Turkey will be harmed; we do not allow such a thing, noted Atalay.

He said that they took measures in Israeli residences, consulates and worship places in Istanbul.

Turkish foreign minister said he learned that spouses and families of Israeli diplomats requested Turkey to return to their country, and noted that, "I am addressing the Israeli diplomats and their spouses: their security is the honor of Turkish state. It is our duty to ensure their security. They should not hesitate in anyway."

"Our Jewish citizens are essential elements of our nation. They are not foreigners. We have lived together for centuries and we will continue to live together. We never make any discrimination. According to our state tradition, any discrimination can not be in question. I request our jewish citizens to be at ease," he said.

Similarly, Davutoglu wanted Israeli tourists to be at ease, noting they were the guests of Turkish state. 

Most of Turkey's Jews are descendants of people expelled from Spain in 1492, and were welcomed by Ottoman Sultan Beyazit. Other Jews found refuge in Turkey after fleeing Nazi persecution during World War II.

"Turkish officials in Israel"

Turkey also sent a senior diplomat who on Wednesday departed for Tel Aviv to coordinate efforts to bring Turkish activists back home who were injured or taken under custody.

Deputy Under Secretary Halit Cevik left the Turkish capital as a larger part of Turkish activists was expected to return to Turkey later today.


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Turkey has sent three ambulance planes and three airplanes to bring Turkish activists home.

Some of the Turkish activists have already returned to Turkey after being released from a prison in Beersheba.


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Israel's bloody raid on six aid ships that carried 700 activists who were trying to break the Israel's navel blockade of Gaza has dramatically escalated tensions with Turkey. The attack killed nine people, including at least four Turks on a Turkish aid ship. Turkey withdrew its ambassador, scrapped war games with Israel and demanded a U.N. Security Council meeting on the attack as a result.

Last Mod: 02 Haziran 2010, 17:32
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