Thousands of Turks rally on anniversary of flotilla

On second anniversary of 'Marmara' raid, thousands chant against Israel in Istanbul, call for justice for those responsible.

June 1, 2012 01:12
2 minute read.
Turks mark anniversary of flotilla in Istanbul

Turkish flotilla anniversary rally 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Thousands of people chanted slogans and waved banners against Israel in Istanbul on Thursday in a rally marking the two year anniversary of the IDF raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla, in which nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed, AFP reported.

The IHH, widely considered a terrorist organization by a number of bodies, the Israeli government among them, and one of the main groups behind the Gaza flotilla, organized the rally held in Istanbul’s Taksim Square.

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Demonstrators called for those responsible for the raid to be held accountable, just days after a Turkish court accepted indictments against four former senior Israeli commanders, with prosecutors calling for them to receive life sentences for their part in the raid of the Mavi Marmara flotilla.

Among those listed in the indictment were former Military Intelligence head Maj.- Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin and former IDF chief of staff Lt.- Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi.

In the aftermath of the indictments, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that he wanted to send a “very clear” message to IDF soldiers and officers that “the State of Israel will always stand at your side, everywhere and everyplace. You defended us, we will defend you. That is an important rule.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told visiting German President Joachim Gauck on Tuesday that for the last number of years, Israel has conducted itself with “maximum restraint” in the face of Turkish provocations, a policy he said dated back to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s berating President Shimon Peres at a conference in Davos soon after Operation Cast Lead in 2009.

“But restraint does not mean that Israel will allow the intimidation of its officers and soldiers acting under the highest ethical standards, with full justification under international law, as determined by the UN’s Palmer Commission report on the Mavi Marmara,” he said.

Liberman said he hoped European countries would not cooperate with Turkey regarding the “absurd charges” against the former IDF officers.

He also said he expected Europe to call Turkey to order and not go along with the provocations of a NATO member state that has “lost its direction and acts contrary to accepted international rules.”

The foreign minister said Israel would continue to act responsibly and not be dragged into counter-provocations against Erdogan “out of concern for regional peace and stability.”

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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