Turkey vows legal action against Israelis involved in raid

Turkish embassy in DC: Ankara will seek to prosecute Israeli soldiers, officials responsible for "crimes" committed during 'Marmara' raid.

By REUTERS
September 2, 2011 20:53
2 minute read.
IDF soldiers

shayetet 13. (photo credit: IDF)

 
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UNITED NATIONS - Turkey said on Friday it will seek to prosecute all Israelis responsible for crimes committed during an Israeli raid on a ship bound for the Gaza Strip that killed nine Turks in May 2010.

"Turkey will take legal actions against the Israeli soldiers and all other officials responsible for the crimes committed and pursue the matter resolutely," Turkey's embassy in Washington said in a statement.

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The threat follows a UN report that confirmed the legality of Israel's naval blockade of Gaza but said Israel had used unreasonable force in the raid. Both Turkey and Israel disputed some of the conclusions of the so-called Palmer Report.

The names of the Israeli marines involved in the raid have not been released, so only ranking commanders overseeing the operation could be identified if Turkey follows through with the legal action.

The full text of the UN report, which was leaked on Thursday, was formally handed to the office of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and published on Friday , a UN spokesman said.

The United Nations issued a brief statement that said Ban thanked the panel for the report. It made no reference to the contents or the current frosty state of Israeli-Turkish ties.

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Turkey's expulsion of Israeli diplomats and determination to pursue legal action suggested that the Palmer Report has only deepened the divide between Ankara and its one-time ally.

"Turkey challenges certain conclusions of the Palmer Report, which we believe will not serve the goal of stability and peace, particularly in our region," Turkey's embassy said.

"Turkey also reaffirms that relations between Turkey and Israel will not normalize as long as Israel does not apologize and refuses to pay compensation for what it has done."

The statement reiterated Ankara's view that the Israeli blockade of Gaza was illegal.

Israel rejects the conclusion that the Israeli military used excessive force during the raid on the Mavi Marmara, the largest in a flotilla of six ships that the crew said were delivering aid to Palestinians in Gaza.

The report's release had been delayed repeatedly to allow for ultimately fruitless rapprochement talks between Israel and Turkey, whose relations were chilled by the incident on May 31 last year.

The report was originally expected to be completed in February. But Turkey and Israel were never able to agree on what happened and what the conclusions of the report should be, diplomats and UN officials said. As a result, one UN official said, the report is not a "consensus document."

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