There have been several lawsuits filed against the Israeli government and government officials on the deaths and injuries to passengers and crew of various boats in the Gaza Flotillas and for the return or compensation of several of the boats.
Israeli commandos attacking the Mavi Marmara
Lawsuit against Israeli Government Officials in Turkish Court
In May 2012, a Turkish court 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, 2012 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 pressed formal charges in May 2012 with the first trial held in November 2012. 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.
However, in December 2016, the Turkish court dropped the case against four Israeli military officials charged over a deadly raid on a ship in an aid flotilla bound for Gaza in 2010. Arrest warrants for the four were also dropped. Dropping the charges was a key part of a deal agreed between Israel and Turkey this June to normalize bilateral ties. Under a deal reached in 2016, Israel agreed to pay $20 million in compensation to the victims of the raid. In return, Israeli nationals would not be held criminally or financially liable for the incident. The deal allowed Turkey and Israel to restore normal relations in June 2016, mending a six-year rift that followed the flotilla incident.
The day before the judges in Istanbul rendered their ruling, the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary suspended the observer status of the Turkish High Council for Judges and Prosecutors in the organization, citing concerns that the Turkish judiciary is no longer sufficiently independent from Turkey’s executive and legislative branches.
Mavi Marmara trial: Court insists on Interpol notice
The next hearing for Mavi Marmara case that is going on at Istanbul 7th Criminal Court is scheduled at 11th-12th March 2015.
The 7th hearing of Mavi Marmara Case was heard on Tuesday 9th December 2014 at Istanbul 7th Criminal Court. During the hearing which started at 10 am, the testimonies of IHH Board Member Att. Gülden Sönmez, Mehmet Yıldırım, Palestinian activist Ahsan Shamruk who was wounded at the head during the attack and English activist Laura Stuart were heard.
The court scheduled the next hearing at 11th-12th March 2015 in order to continue hearing the testimonies of the victims and witnesses.
Complainants, lawyers and audience have attended the hearing at the court. The president of IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation Bülent Yıldırım and Mavi Marmara Case attorney Cihat Gökdemir made a press release in front of the court.
Attorney Cihat Gökdemir pointed out that there were more than 500 passengers on board Mavi Marmara ship. “Some of them are heard at the previous hearings. In this hearing international victims from abroad and some victims from Turkey were heard. British citizen Palestinian activist Ahsan Shamruk’s testimony was taken lately. He said in his testimony because he speaks Hebrew, he was able to understand what Israeli soldiers were talking among each other and he heard them say “We shot the leader” when they shot him on purpose as he resembles IHH president Bülent Yıldırım.”
Gökdemir: We request Arrest Warrant to be Forwarded to Interpol
Att. Gökdemir reported that he asked the court to send an alias writ to the Ministry of Justice in order to inquire about the arrest warrant.
The attorney Gökdemir who spoke in front of the court prior to the hearing said that previously the court has issued arrest warrants for the Israeli commanders of the time and requested Interpol Notice about the defendants.
“The ministry of foreign affairs’ diplomats and Defence Ministry bureaucrats who failed to forward the arrest warrants about the commanders to the Interpol should be held accountable. We warn you. We will ask the court to inquire about the results regarding the arrest warrants issued to the Ministry of Justice” he said.
“There are troyan horses who block the case”
IHH President Bülent Yıldırım noted that it was the seventh hearing into the case and said: “I am not sure what else should be heard about this case. Everything is so obvious. There are so many witnesses from around the world. The murderers are out there; Liberman, Natenyahu and the cabinet members at the time. Now only the officers are prosecuted. But the tall order came from Israeli government. It is the same government of Natenyahu and his cabinet that gave the demolition order for Masjid al-Aqsa, giving rights to the settlers, throwing away the Quran and gave orders to the marines to carry out the attack. Therefore we are telling you that these Zionists are not to be trusted. Turkey had a diplomatic victory and they apologized. OK, let the things return to normal. The existence of a compensation whether it is small or big is important. But we set on this way to remove the blockade. All the world agreed with us. UN, EU Parliament and all nations agreed with us. They said that the blockade is illegal. But these Zionists are still not removing the blockade”
Yıldırım highlighted that the information and the documents are withheld from International Criminal Court on purpose.“The Union of Comoros has referred the case to ICC. The head consular to the president of The Union of Comoros wished to come to Turkey to discuss the issue. Unfortunately he was not granted a visa after waiting one week in both Tanzania and Kenya. The arrest warrant issued by the court is not forwarded to Interpol. Who is responsible from all these? Whether they like us or not the president, the prime minister, all political parties, NGOs, all institutions and bodies and peoples are resolute. Their resolution is that the murderers should be found. In spite of all this resoluteness, who are those Troyan horses who refrain from sending the arrest warrant to Interpol? We demand administrative interrogation into this matter. An interrogation should be carried out at one. We believe that the court will request the same and the arrest warrants will be referred to Interpol.” he said.
Freedom Flotilla which was sailing to Gaza in order to remove the inhumane blockade on the city was attacked in international waters by Israeli marines. While 10 Turkish citizens were killed on board Mavi Marmara flagship dozens of people were wounded.
Following the bloody attack on Freedom Flotilla, the activists started a legal struggle in order to bring the murderers to justice. In the previous hearing of the case which was referred to the Turkish courts as a part of the legal struggle the court has issued arrest warrants about the Israeli generals.