Turkish court orders arrest of four Israeli generals over Mavi Marmara

Turkish court orders arrest of four Israeli generals over Mavi Marmara

Turkish court orders arrest of four Israeli generals over Mavi Marmara A Turkish court has ordered the arrest of four Israeli commanders who were allegedly involved in the raid on the the Mavi Marmara aid ship off Gaza in 2010.

The Istanbul 7th Court of Serious Crimes also decided May 26 to request an Interpol Red Notice for the arrest of former Israeli Chief of Staff, Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, former Naval Forces Cmdr. Eliezer Alfred Marom, former Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlinir and former Air Forces Intelligence head Brig. Gen. Avishai Levi, who are all being tried in absentia.

The court argued that an arrest warrant had become necessary for the legal procedure as the defendants had neither attended the trial nor responded to an invitation sent to them through the related department of the Turkish Justice Ministry.

No one at the Israeli embassy in Ankara was immediately available for comment.

An Israeli official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, described the court’s decision as a "ridiculous provocation." "If this is the message that the Turks want to send to Israel, it was perfectly well understood," said the official, declining to elaborate further on what this meant for the reconciliation process.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying “the judiciary process is ongoing” and “the ruling is being examined by law experts.” 

During the May 26 hearing, Bülent Yıldırım, the head of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH), which owns the Mavi Marmara, said the complainants "expect justice to be served." 

"The court still hasn’t reached a verdict. As far as I see, things are being postponed because of reports about a deal [between Turkey and Israel]," Yıldırım said.

Turkish prosecutors have demanded life sentences for the four for their role in the raid, following a complaint filed by 33 relatives of the Turkish citizens who were killed aboard the Mavi Marmara.

The court pressed formal charges in May 2012 with the first trial held in November 2012. Lawyers overseeing the case criticized the recent reconciliation process between Turkey and Israel last week.

Ten killed

Israeli forces killed ten Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara aid flotilla on May 31, 2010. Turkey repeatedly demanded the country issue an apology and pay compensation for the deaths.

The assault sparked widespread condemnation and provoked a major diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

Ankara expelled the Israeli ambassador, demanded a formal apology and compensation, and an end to the blockade on the Gaza Strip – which is ruled by Hamas, a Palestinian militant group.

İHH, together with the victims’ families, brought a criminal case against the four Israeli ex-military chiefs after the maritime assault.

An Israeli probe ruled that the raid did not violate international law, in a finding that Turkey said lacked credibility.

Talks on compensation began in March 2013 after Israel extended a formal apology to Turkey in a breakthrough brokered by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, said in April he was prepared to normalize ties with Israel.

Authorities had recently said they were close to a deal that would see Israel pay compensation for the deaths, but Tel Aviv said this was conditional on the lawsuits against its soldiers being dropped.

“We will not drop the lawsuits. We believe criminals must be put on trial,” Serkan Nergis, a spokesman for the İHH, told AFP. “Even if we do give up, victims’ families will not.”