A number of Israeli passengers were detained yesterday upon their arrival in Cyprus because they told the authorities that they were planning to continue by car to Turkish Cyprus. “It was bizarre, we didn’t know why,” said one of the passengers. The Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry explained that they had published a warning regarding airports in northern Cyprus months ago.

Israelis detained for hours in Cyrus airport

Israelis detained for hours in Cyrus airport Photo Credit: Reuters/ Channel 2 News

Cyprus is a very popular destination for Israelis, especially during the holidays. But it turns out that staying in one of the Turkish Cypriot hotels is actually illegal; a few unlucky Israelis found that out the hard way when they were detained by the Cypriot authorities for several hours yesterday.

“They detained us for four hours, with our crying children, and they told us that we would be sent back to Israel,” said one of the passengers who was delayed at the airport. She and her fellow travelers were detained once she told the authorities that she and her family planned on continuing by car to northern Cyprus. “It was bizarre,” she said. “Four hours of threats to send us back to Israel unless we agreed to book a hotel in Greek Cyprus.” Only after the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry intervened were they finally released.

“These hotels are not under a legal owner, it’s an issue that certainly relates to the safety and security of the Israeli traveler,” explained the Cypriot ambassador to Israel Thessalia-Salina Shambos to Channel 2 News. “In the northern occupied part of Cyprus, the government has no effective control. It is a vacuum of legality… one that creates a lot of problems.”

Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry claimed that they had posted a warning regarding airports in the northern part of Cyprus back in February and said that “according to the Cypriot authorities, travelers arriving in the Republic of Cyprus are only permitted to enter and exit their territory through the crossing points declared by the Cypriot government.”