TEL AVIV – A Turkish government official was reportedly fired after saying she hoped Israeli tourists wounded in Saturday’s suicide bombing in Istanbul were dead.
Irem Atkas (pictured), a member of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, took to Twitter to say, “I wish the Israeli tourists were not wounded but were dead.”
Her Twitter account was subsequently deleted.
Atkas was dismissed from her position after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Foreign Ministry to demand an apology from its Turkish counterpart.
“I demanded it be removed and that steps be taken against the woman who published it. The tweet was removed,” Netanyahu told reporters on Saturday evening.
“If [the tweet] is true, this is a shocking and ugly statement and we expect [the Turkish government] to apologize and distance itself from the statement,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emanuel Nahshon said in a statement.
Hatice Yücel, chairwoman of the Women’s Branch of the AK Party in Istanbul’s Eyüp district – of which Atkas is a board member – tweeted that Atkas’ views as shared on social media do not reflect the party’s views. Yücel also expressed her condolences to the victims of the attack and wished a quick recovery for the wounded, the Daily Sabah reported.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu sent his condolences to Netanyahu following the bombing.
“Today’s attack in Istanbul has shown us once again that the international community as a whole should act in a resolute manner against the ignoble objectives of terrorist organizations,” the Turkish Prime Minister wrote to Netanyahu.
“I would like to convey my condolences to the families of the Israeli citizens who lost their lives in the heinous attack which happened in Istanbul and to the people of Israel, and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded,” he added.
Two of the four Israelis killed in the blast held dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship, Reuters reported. Washington said it would work closely with Ankara to combat terrorism in the region.
“We are in close touch with Turkish authorities and reaffirm our commitment to work together with Turkey to confront the evil of terrorism,” White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.