JERUSALEM, July 19 Israel advised its citizens
on Saturday not to travel to Turkey, citing "the public mood"
after heated protests there against Israel's ground offensive
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said Israelis should
"avoid non-essential visits" to Turkey - once Israel's closest
regional ally - or be especially vigilant and steer clear of
The travel advisory could affect commercial air connections
between Tel Aviv and Istanbul, expanded in recent years as the
two countries sought to rebuild relations.
Israel said on Friday it would pare back already an reduced
staff at its embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul, scenes
of furious street protests at Israel's escalation of its Gaza
offensive into a ground invasion.
It accused Turkish police of not doing enough to protect its
diplomats and Islamist-rooted Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan of
incitement after he accused Israel of terrorising the region.
Relations with Turkey reached a nadir in 2010, when Israeli
commandos stormed the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara sailing as part
of a flotilla challenging the Jewish state's naval blockade of
Gaza. Ten people were killed.
Palestinians say some 300 people, most of them civilians,
have been killed in Gaza by an offensive that Israel says aims
to stop cross-border rocket fire by the coastal enclave's
dominant Hamas Islamists and other militants. Two Israelis, a
soldier and a civilian, have also died.
(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Catherine Evans)