Israeli family of four and three children detained in Turkey

Jewish family from US, Australia and UK held after crossing into Syria near Turkish border Read more

An Israeli couple, family of five, who were detained for the past week in Turkey have been released.

Myriam and Mahboub Awad, an American, Australian and UK citizen, along with their three young children, had crossed the border illegally from Syria into Turkey on Sunday.

The home front security service, known as the Gendarmerie, detained the family in an operation that lasted seven hours. The family was held at a border police camp until Monday morning, when they were taken to a commercial court near Izmir to be presented before a judge, according to the Gendarmerie. They were released shortly after.

“All the charges against us are untrue,” myriam Awad told the Guardian by phone, from Izmir. “We are all returning home with minor injuries – swollen arms and legs, leg injuries.”

Maha Awad, the family’s sister-in-law, said: “It’s something that has to do with them being obviously illegal, but in the end we are all human. We are hoping to be back in Israel tomorrow.”

The family had arrived in Turkey earlier this month, visiting relatives in Izmir before crossing into Syria. The family was granted a Turkish visa for a month and two days, but did not declare their Israeli citizenship and continued to travel illegally.

Asked why the family chose to cross into Syria from Turkey, Malak Awad said: “I don’t think they understand why they crossed into Syria. They crossed legally in Turkey but illegally in Syria, and we are human beings.”

Afraid of entering and being detained in Israel, the family had to enter Turkey before the official border. They tried twice to enter Israel from Syria, but the border was closed, yet they made it into Turkey.

The couple has lived in Israel for the past 40 years. In 1980, when they were 17, they immigrated to Israel from Saudi Arabia with their seven brothers and sisters. After living and working for some years in Eilat and in Tel Aviv, they came to the UK in 2005, to join their father, Saeed, who previously worked in Nottingham for United Kingdom Airports Authority, he said.

They were delighted to be able to come to Israel again because they thought that was the time to have kids, Malak said. “I always thought maybe another three,” she said.

Myriam remained at her parent’s home in the UK, while the couple and the children moved in 2016 to Tel Aviv.

Israeli prison held 10 Palestinian teens, including one girl, and 20 inmates whose cases have been classified as political in nature in recent months, following protests against the release of hundreds of prisoners under a peace plan.

Twenty of the 20 prisoners have been serving sentences for more than 10 years. Israeli law allows the detention of individuals who pose a security threat for up to 20 years.

According to the NIS [Israel Prison Service] website, six of the 20 are on parole conditions, one in a closed unit and seven are on home detention for social reasons. The third is at the prison hospital.

The Israeli government has claimed that none of the detainees are connected to Hamas.

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