One of the men on the Mavi Marmara spent three years in a Turkish prison for hijacking a ferry in the Black Sea in 1996; this indicates just who the “activists” were on the boat that tried to break the Gaza blockade on May 31, Foreign Ministry officials said Monday.

The Turkish newspaper Hurrieyt reported over the weekend that Erdinc Tekir, who was hurt during the IDF raid on the boat, was among the ninemember team that hijacked the Black Sea ferry to bring the 1996 war in Chechneya to the world’s attention. Tekir spent some three and a half years in prison for the incident.

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"This shows what kind of people were on the ship,” one Foreign Ministry official said.

“There were people with a history of violence, and willingness to use it.” The official said Israel hoped the UN panel that was established to probe the Gaza flotilla incident would look into who was on the boat. The panel needs to “shed light on what really happened for the whole world to see.”

The ferry hijacking on the Black Sea took place during the First Chechen War; it ended without bloodshed after three days with the safe release of more than 219 unharmed captives. Another 13 people were hospitalized from illness and injuries.


The Panamanian-registered ferry, named the Avrazya, was hijacked in Istanbul on January 16, 1996, as it was about to leave for Sochi, Russia. The terrorists, six Turks of Caucasian origin like Tekir, two Chechens and an ethnic Abkhaz from Abkhazia, had planned to blow up the ferry with 114 Russian hostages to draw attention to Chechnya’s plight.

The Istanbul-born Tekir was sentenced to more than eight years in Turkish prison, but spent less than half that time, some 3 1/2 years, behind bars.

Tekir was quoted as telling Hurriyet that the group that hijacked the ferry – and Israel – were both “pirates,” but “we were the pirates of goodness,” while Israel was “cruel.”

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