NICOSIA – As Turkey keeps drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus, an Israeli research ship near the island was forced away by the Turkish Navy, Israel’s National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Ministry confirmed of the incident that occurred on Nov. 18.
Bat Galim, a vessel belonging to the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, had researchers from Ben-Gurion University in the Negev aboard, as well as a Cypriot geologist, who were doing research approved by the Government of Cyprus in Cyprus’ territorial water, the Jerusalem Post said.
Turkey does not have jurisdiction over the area of the Mediterranean Sea in which the researchers were working, but its Navy demanded that Bat Galim move further south, as first reported on Channel 13.
The event happened just after Turkey and Libya signed an agreement dividing up the seas between them, including near the major Greek islands of Rhodes and Crete, which Greece denounced but as the United Nations so far has not intervened.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned Israel’s top diplomat in Ankara to tell him that Israel’s plan to lay down a natural gas pipeline to Europe in that part of the Mediterranean Sea, in cooperation with Greece and Cyprus, would require Turkey’s approval, Channel 13 reported.