Last Updated: Thu May 17, 2012 14:19 pm (KSA) 11:19 am (GMT)

Turks say Israeli plane violated Northern Cyprus airspace

“A plane belonging to Israel, the model of which could not be identified, violated KKTC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) airspace (above its territorial waters) five times,” the military said. (Reuters)
“A plane belonging to Israel, the model of which could not be identified, violated KKTC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) airspace (above its territorial waters) five times,” the military said. (Reuters)

Turkey scrambled military jets to intercept an Israeli plane that violated the airspace of northern Cyprus this week, the Turkish high command said on Thursday.

The Israeli aircraft violated the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’s airspace five times in Monday’s incident which saw Turkish fighter jets chase out the intruder, the army command said in a statement.

It gave no other details about the incident nor the type of Israeli plane involved in the alleged incursion.

“A plane belonging to Israel, the model of which could not be identified, violated KKTC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) airspace (above its territorial waters) five times,” the military said.


Monday’s incident coincided with tensions on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus over oil and gas exploration plans there, which could hinder U.N.-backed efforts to reunite the island.


“In response to this situation, our 2XF-16 plane based at Incirlik was scrambled and our planes carried out patrol flights in KKTC airspace, preventing the said plane from continuing to violate KKTC airspace,” said the statement, posted on the Turkish general staff’s website.

In Jerusalem, an Israeli military spokeswoman said she was checking the report.

Relations between former allies Turkey and Israel have fallen apart since Israeli commandos raided the Mavi Marmara aid vessel in May 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip and killed nine Turks in clashes with pro-Palestinian activists.


Israel and the internationally-recognized Republic of Cyprus have both discovered huge offshore natural gas deposits beneath the Mediterranean Sea between them, and have tentatively discussed cooperation on delivering gas to European and Asian markets.

The drilling for gas and oil in the seabed off Cyprus which began last year angered Turkey, which says it abuses northern Cypriots’ rights to the same resources.

In April, Turkey launched its own exploratory drilling in the seabed offshore the TRNC in the north, drawing a sharp response from the government of Cyprus, which labeled the action as illegal.

Turkey’s relations with Israel have soured since Israeli commandos in 2010 stormed a Turkish ship carrying activists trying to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza, killing nine Turks.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops occupied the northern third in response to a Greek-inspired coup in Nicosia aimed at union with Greece.

Turkey still keeps about 30,000 troops in the north and is the only nation that recognizes the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Israel has worked to enhance ties with Cyprus and Greece as its relations with Turkey have frayed.

The eastern Mediterranean has recently seen joint Israeli military maneuvers with its partners, as well as long-distance training by Israel’s air force for a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The Israelis use warplanes and pilotless drones, as well as naval craft, to patrol their natural gas fields.

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