(photo credit: REUTERS/Osman Orsa)
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai said on Friday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's message to the Turkish leader was carried out in agreement with IDF chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz.
In a dramatic development that occurred just as US President Barack Obama was leaving the country, Netanyahu spoke with Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan by telephone for the first time since the Israeli prime minister took power in 2009, voicing regret for the loss of life in the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.
Mordechai said the IDF agreed with Netanyahu's message in light of the protection the message would afford IDF soldiers due to the dropping of legal charges against them, and the importance of security-strategic relations with Turkey.
Turkey put four former IDF commanders, including former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, on trial in absentia for the killing of nine Turks on a Gaza-bound aid ship.
The indictment named Israel's former Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former Navy Commander Eliezer Marom, former Air Force Commander Amos Yadlin and former head of Air Force intelligence Avishay Levi, seeking prison sentences of more than 18,000 years for each of them.
The 144-page indictment sought multiple life sentences totaling over 18,000 years for each of the defendants – Ashkenazi, former navy head V.-Adm. (res.) Eliezer Marom, former Military Intelligence head Maj.- Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin and former head of air force intelligence Brig.-Gen. (res.) Avishay Levi. It lists “inciting murder through cruelty or torture,” and “inciting injury with firearms,” among the charges.
Media reports indicated that the Istanbul Bar Association appointed lawyers to defend the former IDF commanders, but no details were provided on their identities, or on any actions they took on behalf of the defendants.
Israel dismissed the case as “political theater,” saying the accused had not even been notified of the charges.Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and froze military cooperation after the UN-sponsored Palmer Commission report into the 2010 incident released last September largely exonerated Israel by calling the Gaza blockade legal under international law.