Turkish airport workers refuse to refuel Israeli airline

Turkish airport staff refused to allow an Israeli plane, traveling from Poland to Tel Aviv, to deboard and refuel after it made an emergency landing due to a medical situation involving a passenger. The plane, which was redirected to Greece, had initially landed in Antalya after nearly three hours into its journey, according to data from the flight-tracking website FlightAware. The decision to redirect the plane came after local authorities initially declined refueling assistance. However, Turkish authorities later clarified that they would have permitted refueling, but by that time, the decision to depart for Greece had already been made. This incident occurs against the backdrop of Turkey’s recent halt in trade with Israel and its strong criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli government’s policies.

Flight LY5102, operating from Warsaw to Tel Aviv, made its unscheduled stop in Antalya. FlightAware data shows that following the emergency landing in Turkey, the plane then flew to Rhodes International Airport, where it made a stop for about an hour before continuing to its final destination. In a statement to The Times of Israel, El Al, the Israeli airline operating the flight, expressed frustration, stating that Turkish ground workers had refused to refuel the plane, despite the medical emergency on board.

The situation involved the evacuation of a passenger who required urgent medical treatment. This delay and subsequent diversion caused significant inconvenience. The plane ultimately took off for Rhodes in Greece, where it successfully refueled before heading on to Israel. According to Israeli news outlet Mako, the aircraft remained on the tarmac at the Turkish airport for approximately two hours during this ordeal. A passenger on the flight, identified only as Avner, recounted to Mako that they were initially informed that the local airport workers would refuel the plane, but the ground crew was not cooperative, leading to further complications.

An unnamed Turkish diplomatic source later told The Times of Israel that fuel was indeed to be provided to the plane due to humanitarian considerations. However, as the refueling procedure was about to be completed, the captain decided to leave, resulting in the flight being redirected to Greece. The source emphasized that the decision to depart was made by the flight crew.

This incident also highlights the strained relations between Turkey and Israel, especially following the recent Hamas terror attacks on October 7 in Israel and the subsequent military invasion of Gaza. These events have led to the cancellation of all direct flights between Israel and Turkey. Last year, Antalya was a favored destination for Israeli tourists, illustrating how drastically relations and travel dynamics have shifted in recent months. The ongoing geopolitical tensions continue to affect both diplomatic and civilian engagements between the two nations.

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