Cypriot authorities have detained 39 Israelis for deportation after they landed on the eastern Mediterranean island, Israeli media reported on Wednesday.
The Israeli tourists reportedly arrived at Larnaca airport were detained upon telling officers that they intended to travel to the Turkish Cypriot-occupied north.
The Cyprus Mail newspaper, placing the number of detained Israelis at 35, reported that the tourists were later allowed into the country after the Israeli embassy in Cyprus contacted the Greek Cypriot Foreign Ministry.
Although there are no measures preventing tourists crossing into the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) from the south, Greek Cypriot authorities have been tightening controls on travelling to the north since reunification talks collapsed earlier this year.
“Any tourist who arrives in Cyprus with the aim of vacationing in the territories occupied by Turkey is breaking Cypriot law and risks being returned to his country of departure,” Greek Cypriot representatives in Tel Aviv told Israel’s Hadashot news, according to the Times of Israel.
The Greek Cypriot administration’s foreign ministry earlier this week issued a reminder of a previous advisory warning tourists not to visit the north.
Tourists who intend on staying in blacklisted hotels in the north may be turned away even at points of entry under Greek Cypriot control in the south, the administration warned.
“The advisory said that anyone entering Cyprus from the northern territory would receive a black mark in their passport and be banned from returning to Cyprus for 10 years. Offenders could also be fined or face up to 12 months in prison,” the Times of Israel report said.