Reporter's notebook: Israelis stranded in Turkey

Turkey will not let El Al, Israel's national airline, land at its airports to airlift out its citizens.

July 24, 2014 18:21
1 minute read.
Turkish Airlines

A Turkish Airlines plane.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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ISTANBUL – Israelis yelled at Turks in Istanbul Ataturk Airport Thursday, after the US Federal Aviation Administration lifted its ban on flights to Tel Aviv, while Turkish Airlines extended its ban until July 31.

Placing nearly 4,000 stranded Israelis on outbound flights has been a challenge, no doubt aggravated by the fact that Turkey will not let El Al, Israel’s national airline, land at its airports, even to airlift out its citizens.

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One religious Israeli woman, on her third visit to the massive Turkish hub, said she was prepared to bear the wrath of her family and break Shabbat if she could just get a flight home on Saturday morning.

But those Saturday flights, too, were canceled, even though nearly all European airlines followed the Americans in lifting the ban.

Another Israeli complained, quite loudly, that Turkish Airlines was obliging him to spend hundreds of dollars to reroute through Amman.

Yet another said she was prepared to travel by boat before remaining in Istanbul any longer.

Turkish Airlines offered passengers one night free in a four star hotel, within the city limits here in Istanbul, including food and transportation to and from the airport.

But with days more on the ground, Israelis – and foreign nationals planning travel to Israel – will accrue steep costs to extend their stays.

Sitting on her luggage, furious, the Israeli woman said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should pay for it all.

“It’ll cost a fraction of this war of his,” she said.

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