Turkey drops Gaza 'war crimes' probe

Ankara refuses to bring charges against Israel after Muslim NGO alleges Israel committed "genocide."

Gaza Airstike (photo credit: AP [file])
Gaza Airstike
(photo credit: AP [file])
A crisis in Turkey-Israel relations that began during Operation Cast Lead in late December 2008 has come to an end: A Turkish prosecutor dropped an investigation into Turkish allegations that Israel committed genocide and crimes against humanity during the operation, AFP quoted a Turkish news agency as reporting Thursday. The prosecutor said there were no grounds for prosecution after the Justice Ministry refused it permission to bring charges, the report said. Turkish law allows trying people for genocide or crimes against humanity even if the crimes were committed outside Turkey, but prosecutors need permission from the Turkish Justice Ministry before serving indictments. The investigation was launched in February following a complaint by the human rights association Mazlum-Der, which accused Israel of carrying out "direct attacks on civilians with the aim of annihilating them." Mazlum-Der had asked that several Israeli officials be tried, including President Shimon Peres and certain government ministers. Relations between Israel and Turkey were further strained following harsh criticism from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who blasted the offensive several times during the campaign. In the G20 summit in Davos after Operation Cast Lead ended, Erdogan repeated his criticism in a forum with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Peres. The president then rebuffed his claims one by one. After not being given the time to answer Peres again, Erdogan walked out. The two countries have since attempted to defuse the tension and have taken several opportunities to declare the importance of mutual relations.