Despite an official protest from Israel, the Turkish state-sponsored TRT1 television channel aired on its website a preview of the next episode of the series 'Ayrilik,' which depicts IDF soldiers as blood-thirsty murderers. The episode is scheduled to be aired Tuesday on prime time viewing.
The next episode includes fictional footage of soldiers shooting innocent female farmers, Palestinians facing a firing squad and soldiers spraying bullets as they speed through the streets on an army jeep.
Thus far TRT1 has refused to comment on the uproar the series has sparked. Mustafa Gursoy, a senior official in the channel referred to the controversy for the fist time in a conversation with Ynet.
"In retrospect, I do have regrets. Maybe we should have dropped some scenes," said Gursoy, who acts as deputy content manger in TRT1. "We didn't think it would strike up such a fuss. It's only a love story; maybe it'll have a positive effect on the conflict."
Nevertheless, TRT1 has no intention of shelving the program. "This whole story is one big misunderstanding…we intend to continue with the broadcast," Gursoy said. He further stated that the series was not meant to criticize Israel.
"People who will watch the next episodes will understand the context. It's a love story between an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian woman. People only watched part of the program and drew their own conclusions, they didn't watch the rest."
Aside from the media frenzy, channel officials are also disappointed in the TV ratings: "Last week the episode didn't get high ratings, only 0.8%, but this week, due to the tensions with Israel, I believe the ratings will climb," the channel official noted.
Gursoy stressed again that the Turkish government was not involved in the decision to broadcast the show.
"We here at the channel are the ones who make the decisions. It's a private production company. I'm on the board of directors and I can assure you that no one tried to influence us."