Turkey Is Top Destination For Direct Flights From Israel Despite Bilateral Tension


erdoganTurkey is the most popular destination for direct flights from Israel despite an ongoing tense relationship between the governments of those two nations in recent years.

The Israel Airports Authority (IAA) summary of the month of July, released Monday, showed that Turkey has overtaken the U.S. as the top destination for direct flights from the Jewish state, with Greece also surpassing America and rising to second place.

About 170,000 passengers traveled to Turkey from Israel during July, which is a 30-percent increase from the same month in 2014 (which came during the Israel-Hamas war). Roughly 169,000 passengers traveled from Israel to Greece last month, a 29.7-percent increase from July 2014. The U.S. came in third with about 136,000 passengers and an increase of less than 10 percent.

Germany was fourth with 135,000 passengers and a 23-percent increase, while Italy was fifth at 123,000 passengers and a 20-percent increase, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

Israel and Turkey have had a strained relationship since the May 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, in which nine Turkish citizens were killed after they attacked Israeli commandos who boarded a vessel that tried to break the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. Current Turkish leaders, particularly President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have often engaged in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric.