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Turkish regime stops suing Israelis over flotilla raid

10 December 2016 10:13

Israeli President Shimon Peres (L) toasts with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul (C) and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their official dinner in Ankara, 12 November 2007.  Israeli President Shimon Peres pledged today that his country would work for a tangible result at an upcoming US-sponsored Middle East peace conference, saying that the Jewish state is ready to make peace with the Palestinians. AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A court in Turkey has ruled that litigation must be dropped against four Israeli military officials over a commando raid that killed 10 Turkish humanitarian aid workers in 2010.

The Turkish court trusted with the case dropped it after a closed-door hearing on Friday as per an agreement between Ankara and Tel Aviv on the restoration of bilateral diplomatic ties, which had been severed after the attack.

Under the agreement, which was struck in June, Ankara settled for just an apology and compensations to the families of the Turkish victims, pledged not to hold Israeli individuals liable for the assault, and also backed down from its earlier demand that Tel Aviv lift its siege of the Gaza Strip.

Turkey’s private Dogan news agency reported that the court had also waived arrest warrants against the Israelis, among whom was the regime’s former military chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

The Turkish activists were attacked on board Mavi Marmara — the lead ship in a six-vessel aid convoy heading for the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip — in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea. Nine died on the spot, and a tenth succumbed to injuries later. The others were detained by Israeli forces.

The court case had been brought on behalf of 740 individuals from 37 countries, who say their loved ones had been wounded, assaulted, or imprisoned during the raid.

The normalization of ties between Turkey and Israel also entailed the posting of ambassadors. Israel’s first ambassador to Turkey since the rupture in the relations, which saw Ankara expelling the previous envoy, commenced his work on Monday.

Reports said that tumult erupted at the courthouse before the verdict was read.

The lawyers and families of the victims walked out of courtroom shouting “Damn Israel” and “Mavi Marmara our honor.”

Selcuk Kar, a lawyer from Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), which had sponsored the aid convoy, said the judge dismissed the case in haste. “The judicial process will continue. It is not over yet. We will continue to try all legal ways but… Israel is already convicted,” he said.

With the bilateral deal between Turkey and Israel, it will be very unlikely, if not impossible, for the plaintiffs to be able to press their case again in a Turkish court.

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