Photo Credit: Moshe Shai / Flash 90
A Turkish airplane in Israel.

Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News reports, “Turkey’s flagship carrier Turkish Airlines has started offering a discount in round trips from Istanbul to Jerusalem following a social media campaign initiated by citizens.”

The Turkish airline is offering round-trip flights to Israel for only $159.

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The discounted flights are in response to a social media campaign called “#ThyKudüseİndirimYap” (Turkish Airlines make a discount to Jerusalem).

The increased demand to visit Israel, or more specifically, Jerusalem, is a direct result of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call on Muslims to visit the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in solidarity with the local Muslims.

Erdoğan warned against Israeli attempts to Judaize Jerusalem.

“As a Muslim community, we need to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque often, each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us,” Erdogan said in a speech in May 2016, according to Haaretz.

It should be noted, there has been a Jewish majority in Jerusalem, since at least 1840.

Ever since the Mavi Marmara incident, when a Turkish ship tried to break the blockade on Gaza, as well as the increased terror risk for Israelis in Turkey, as well as the terror attack in March 2016 in which three Israeli tourists were killed, and of course, Erdoğan’s constant anti-Israel rhetoric, Israeli visits to Turkey have significantly dropped.

A number of terror attacks in Israel have also been organized and financed by Hamas operative operating out of Turkey.

400,000 Israelis vacationed in Greece in 2015 and more than 150,000 vacationed in Cyprus in 2016, according to Dr. Gallia Lindenstrauss is a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).

At its height, some 500,000 Israelis would visit Turkey annually. That number dropped to less than 80,000 in 2011, and most of those Israelis were Israeli-Arabs.

Since the attempt at rapprochement in 2016, more Israelis are visiting Turkey again, though nowhere near previous levels, and for many, it is to use Istanbul as a stopover on the way to other destinations.

Some 30,000 Turks visited Israel in 2016 according to Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin.

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