Turkish navy ships intercepted an Israeli research vessel in Cypriot waters two weeks ago and forced it away, Israel’s Channel 13 reported on Saturday, quoting senior officials.
The Israeli ship, named Bat Galim, belongs to the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Center and was carrying out research in partnership with the Cypriot government, according to the report. Researchers from Ben-Gurion University were on board, together with a Cypriot geologist.
The Turkish vessels contacted the Bat Galim and demanded information on its activities, even though the vessel was in an area of the Mediterranean where the Turks have no jurisdiction, before ordering it to leave the area immediately, Israeli officials told Channel 13.
Turkey recently signed a maritime border agreement with Libya that has increased tensions between Ankara and Washington as well as with Greece, Cyprus and Israel. The agreement between Libya and Turkey demarcates waters that Greece and Cyprus claim as their own.
According to the report, a senior Israeli official told Channel 13 that the Turkish move was a challenge to Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel, which is seeking to build a pipeline through Cypriot and Greek waters and reach Italy.
“The Turks are trying to show that they are boss, and this is very worrying,” the official told the network.