A Turkish prosecutor is preparing to indict four former Israeli commanders over Israel's May 2010 raid on ships violating the Gaza blockade. The move, first reported by Turkish newspaper Sabah and the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, is likely to further damage strained ties between the two former allies.
Istanbul state prosecutor Mehmet Akif Ekinci drafted the 144-page indictment with heavy cooperation from several branches of the Turkish government, including "correspondence from the Turkish Prime Minister's office, the foreign and justice ministries, and the intelligence service." The file seeks life sentences for the four Israeli army commanders, including former Chief of the General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, but must still be approved by Istanbul's chief prosecutor.
Nine people on the Mavi Marmara were killed in the incident. The ship ignored repeated warnings to turn away from the blockaded area and passengers attacked Israeli commandos with clubs, knives and other weapons as the troops rappelled onto the ship.
No one was injured on five other ships which did not attack the troops.
The indictments are the latest Turkish move to push its version of the events aboard the blockade-running ships, despite a United Nations report which found Israel's Gaza blockade of the Hamas government in Gaza to be legal. Turkey previously drew up a list of 174 Israelis, including Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who it threatened to indict. The Sabah newspaper claimed that the list was prepared by Turkish intelligence agents operating in Israel.
Israel has refused to give into previous Turkish demands related to the incident, including a formal apology and paying compensation to Turks injured in the clashes. The U.S. had been trying to reconcile the two nations, urging them to cooperate on regional cooperation.
Ample evidence suggests that the diplomatic hullabaloo has more to do with the Islamist politics of Turkey's government, than with genuine Turkish grievances.
It already began to support Hamas against Israel, even before the flotilla incident. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the Jewish state of murder during Israel's January 2009 war to stop Hamas terrorists from firing rockets into Israeli towns. Israel's counterterrorism effort, he said, was "defying the world and mocking the world," before asking how the Jewish state dared "to enter the doors of the UN."