Israel releases Turkish tourist on bail

Turkish tourist Ebru Ozkan was released by Israel on bail yesterday after being charged with helping to smuggle money and packages to Hamas last week.

Ozkan’s lawyer, Omar Khamaysa, said she had left Hasharon women’s prison near Netanya city accompanied by officials from Turkey’s embassy in Tel Aviv, after she paid 15,000 Israeli shekels ($4,125) bail money. She is forbidden from leaving the country and her passport has been confiscated.

Israeli military prosecutors had attempted to block her release yesterday, but the objections were dismissed by the court.

Ozkan was arrested a month ago on claims that she was linked to “terrorist groups” during a trip to Jerusalem at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The 27-year-old had her detention extended four times, and was denied any communication with her family for 19 days before she was officially charged with transferring money to Hamas.

“It is a completely arbitrary arrest. They accuse her of [having links] to a terror organisation but they are not saying which terrorist organisation. They are all the groundless claims,” Ozkan’s sister Elif told the Anadolu Agency.

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Ankara has registered its objection to Ozkan’s arrest, vowing to take appropriate steps in response.

Ozkan is not the first Turkish citizen to have been recently detained by Israeli authorities.

In January, Osman Hazir, a 46-year-old Turkish national, was arrested for snapping a selfie at East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque while holding a Turkish flag.

Last December, Israel arrested Abdullah Kizilirmak and Mehmet Gargili after they quarrelled with Israeli police who tried to bar them from entering the flashpoint holy site amid demonstrations in the aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

That same month, Adem Koc was arrested inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for allegedly “disturbing the peace and taking part in an illegal demonstration”.

Kizilirmak, Gargili and Koc were all subsequently released on bail.

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