Israel defiant as rally marks raid anniversary
TEL AVIV / ISTANBUL
Activists pray for the Mavi Marmara victims in Antalya in the second anniversary of Israel’s attack on the Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla. DHA photoTop Israeli officials have pledged to stand by the military personnel who stand accused of involvement in the killing of nine Turks in a raid on the Mavi Marmara flotilla in May 2010, while Turkish groups and the families of the raid’s victims prepare to commemorate them today.
“Israel will stand by you, wherever you are and in every situation. ... You watched over us, we will watch over you. It’s an important rule,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, The Ynet news website reported on May 29. The announcement came soon after a Turkish court formally pressed charges against members of Israel’s military for the killing of nine people aboard the Mavi Marmara in 2010.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak also voiced his support yesterday for those involved in the Mavi Marmara incident. “We will stand as solid as a rock behind all the officers and soldiers who were involved in the issue of the Turkish flotilla,” Barak said in a speech at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, according to daily Haaretz.
A Turkish court on May 29 formally pressed charges against members of Israel’s military involved in the Mavi Marmara incident, demanding nine consecutive life terms for four commanders: Israel’s former military chief, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the former commander-in-chief of the Israeli Navy, Eliezer Marom, the former chief of Israeli military intelligence, Amos Yadlin, and the former intelligence chief of the Israeli Air Force, Avishai Lavy. The indictment said the four face nine consecutive life terms in prison for “inciting to kill monstrously and by torturing.”
Israel to ‘behave responsibly’ despite ‘Turkey’s provocations’
Following the Turkish court’s decision, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on May 29 Israel would “not allow its officers and soldiers to be terrorized, for they acted completely justifiably and in accordance with international law,” according to Haaretz.
“We hope that the European nations will not cooperate with the Turkish provocation of baseless indictments against the former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff and other senior officers,” Lieberman told German President Joachim Gauck, who was visiting Jerusalem. “We hope the European nations will put Turkey back in its place and prevent wild behavior by a NATO member that has gone off course and is behaving in contradiction to all acceptable international laws. Israel will continue to behave responsibly and will not be drawn into counter-provoking [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan, out of a care for peace and stability in the Middle East,” said Lieberman.
The commanders are unlikely to stand trial in Turkey, but the court might issue an order for their arrest if they are convicted in absentia, Anatolia news agency reported.
Israeli Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Meir Rosen urged yesterday that an arrest warrant for the army chiefs should not be underestimated, speaking to Israeli Channel 7. Rosen called on the Netanyahu government to impose pressure on Ankara by calling for help from world states.
March in Taksim for Mavi Marmara
The Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH) was scheduled to gather on board the Mavi Marmara in Istanbul’s Haliç Shipyard at 6:30 p.m. yesterday. The İHH has also organized a march in Taksim Square at 7 p.m. today, the association said on its website.
Meanwhile another association protested the Israeli raid in the western province of Kocaeli yesterday. Supporters of the Kocaeli Humanitarian Aid Association (KİYAD) gathered in Kocaeli and made a press statement accusing Israel of threatening world peace.