Commenting on recently filed charges against top Israeli officers in Turkey over a deadly naval raid in 2010 on a Gaza-bound aid ship, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said his country will not allow its officers to be terrorized by Turkey, terming the Turkish move as yet another “provocation.”
The Israeli foreign minister argued on Tuesday that Israel has been acting with maximum restraint in the face of “Turkish provocations” in the past few years. “Israel will continue behaving responsibly and will not be drawn into counter-provoking [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan, out of a care for peace and stability in the Middle East,” he was quoted as saying by the Israeli media.
However, he added that “despite Israel's restraint, it will not allow its officers and soldiers to be terrorized, for they acted completely justifiably and in accordance with international law, as was also determined by the UN's international investigatory committee into the Gaza flotilla.”
His remarks come in response to a decision by a Turkish court on Monday to press charges against four former top Israeli commanders. The İstanbul 7th High Criminal Court unanimously accepted the indictment submitted last week by İstanbul Specially Authorized Prosecutor Mehmet Akif Ekinci. The indictment seeks nine aggravated life sentences for former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of General Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, former Naval Forces commander Vice Adm. Eliezer Marom, Israel's former military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin and former Air Force intelligence head Brig. Gen. Avishai Levy on charges of instigating a premeditated murder.
Ekinci's indictment only names the commanders who gave orders, with the soldiers who carried out the raid to be named in a separate indictment. The investigation into the soldiers' actions is reportedly still under way.
“We hope that the European nations will not cooperate with the Turkish provocation of baseless indictments against the former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff and other senior officers,” Lieberman reportedly said on Tuesday in a meeting with German President Joachim Gauck, who is on a visit to Jerusalem. “We hope the European nations will put Turkey back in its place and prevent wild behavior by the NATO member that has gone off course and is behaving contradictorily to all acceptable international laws.”
Relations between Israel and Turkey were seriously damaged after the Israeli military raided the Mavi Marmara aid flotilla on May 31, 2010 which was carrying humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip and killed nine Turkish activists on board the ship. Following the attack, Israel's government set up the Turkel Commission, an inquiry headed by Israeli Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, to investigate the attack. Turkish leaders dismissed the Israeli investigation, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined others in demanding an independent investigation, stating that the Israeli investigation would not have international credibility.