'US pressed Israel to release 400 Turkish citizens'

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Jerusalem, June 4 (ANI): Turkey's Deputy Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy Selim Yenel has said that the US pressured Israel to facilitate the speedy release of more than 400 Turkish citizens whom the Israeli forces took into custody from the Gaza-bound protest ships.

But the Israeli Government sources refused to comment on any US involvement in the deportation of the activists, who were brought to Ashdod Port on Monday.

An Israeli official said they were freed quickly because Israel had no desire to keep them, as that would only have further aggravated a sensitive diplomatic situation, The Jerusalem Post reports.

The sources said that on Tuesday night the diplomatic-security cabinet made a decision to release the 700 people who had been on board the vessels.

"It is a first step," Yenel said, and it helped cool down some of the tensions. But he added that the crisis the incident caused in Israeli-Turkish relations was far from over.

During the IDF raid, eight men from Turkey aged between 32 and 61 were killed on board the Mavi Marmara Turkish passenger ship, as was Turkish-American Furkan Dogan.

The deaths mark the first time in "our joint history that the Israeli military has killed Turkish citizens. We are friends. We are partners. We have had close cooperation on everything. That is why we feel so taken aback," Yenel said.

To protest against the incident, Turkey recalled its ambassador for consultations. He arrived in Ankara from Israel on Thursday. It is unclear how long he will be there, or when he will return. (ANI)

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