Israel to protest TV show to Turkish envoy

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says the Turkish TV show
Israeli officials are seeking a meeting with Turkey’s ambassador to protest a show on Turkish television that reportedly depicts Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian children.

Turkey has been Israel’s strongest Muslim ally in the Middle East, and the move comes as relations between the countries have soured in recent days over the latter’s decision to exclude Israel from scheduled military exercises. The Turkish TV show “constitutes the most serious level of incitement, and it is being done with state sponsorship,” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement. The show aired this week on Turkey’s state-run TRT-1 network. It shows an actor dressed as an Israeli soldier shooting what appears to be an unarmed Palestinian girl. In another sequence, an Israeli soldier opens fire on an infant being held by what appears to be a family member. “Such a series which bears no connection whatsoever to reality, presenting IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers as murderers of innocent children, should not be broadcast even in hostile states — and certainly not in a state that maintains full diplomatic relations with Israel,” Lieberman said. The show called “Ayrilik” is billed on the TRT Web site as the “first time a TV series shows the ongoing, bleeding wound of the world which is taking place on Palestinian lands. It shows the painful stories of the people who lived on invaded Palestinian lands in 1948, especially women and children.” Israel and Turkey have enjoyed close military and economic ties for more than a decade. But relations have grown testy at times in recent years over Israel’s activities in the Palestinian territories and over its Gaza offensive in December and January.

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On Tuesday, a senior U.S. military official said Turkey’s decision this week to postpone a NATO war exercise appears to have been a political decision intended to exclude the Israelis. The official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly, said U.S. officials were uncomfortable about excluding Israel and so welcomed postponing the maneuvers in which U.S. military units were scheduled to participate. The exercises were to start Monday and run through October 23. Turkish lawmaker Suat Kiniklioglu, deputy chairman of the external affairs committee for the ruling Justice and Development Party, said that it isn’t “state policy for Turkish television to portray Israel badly.” He said the television network contracts with private producers. “It’s probably some producer who is trying to tap into popular reaction against israel, trying to make money off it,” said Kiniklioglu, who has not seen the program. Kiniklioglu said it “would not be wrong to say Turkish-Israeli relations have become much more fragile” after Gaza, commenting on the exclusion of Israel from military exercises. “This is basically all about Gaza. … The humanitarian crisis is continuing and Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan is upset about it.” Alon Liel, Israel’s top diplomat in Turkey during the 1980s, said he believes the relations between the two countries are in crisis. “This unbelievable attack on the Israeli army is in the country that in the last 15 years was probably the closest to our army, so it’s a major surprise, a major change,” Liel said.