What a relief. It turned out recently that a bird detained in Turkey, on suspicion of spying for Israel, was cleared of the charges.
The bird was a kestrel, a type of small falcon. It was discovered by residents of the Turkish village of Altinavya in the Elazig province. It had a metal ring on its foot stamped with “24311 Tel Avivunia Israel.”
Worried residents of the village turned the bird over to Elazig’s Firat University. There, as Britain’s Telegraph reports:
medical personnel…initially identified the kestrel as “Israeli Spy” in their registration documents. Intensive medical examinations—including X-rays—determined that the bird was, indeed, just a bird. There were no sign of microchips that might transmit information back to Israel, local media reported. The kestrel was allowed to fly off after authorities determined there was no need to press charges.
Turkey, it should be noted, was long considered a prime example of a Muslim secular democracy. It even had extensive economic and strategic relations with Israel.
Many date the deterioration of those relations from the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, when Israeli commandos, attacked by a mob, killed nine Islamists on a Turkish ship headed toward Gaza. But Turkey’s Islamist prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had already started curtailing those relations over Israel’s 2008-2009 operation against his fellow Islamists, Hamas, in Gaza.
Turkey, in other words, has moved closer to the anti-Israeli attitudes prevalent in the region’s Arab countries. Both in those countries and in Turkey itself, the kestrel incident was hardly the first of its kind.