Israel has made contact with the families of victims of the Mavi Marmara attack, bypassing the Turkish government by conveying an apology and offering compensation to victims’ families in return for withdrawal of the case, the Habertürk daily has reported. According to the report, the Israeli government offered families of the Mavi Marmara victims $6 million in return for the withdrawal of their case, which seeks an apology from Israel for the incident and compensation for the victims’ families.
Israeli forces killed eight Turks and a 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish ethnicity onboard the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara, part of a flotilla of ships carrying aid, in international waters on May 31, 2010. Both the Turkish government and population were enraged by the deadly operation. Turkey has demanded an official apology, compensation for the victims’ families and an end to the Gaza blockade. Israel has refused to apologize for the attack, claiming such a request is an insult to its national pride and that its soldiers acted in self-defense, and has moreover declined to pay compensation to the families. Accordingly, Turkey has downgraded relations with Israel, suspending military agreements and asking senior Israeli diplomats to leave Turkish territory.
Ramazan Arıtürk, the lawyer representing Ahmet Doğan, father of 19-year-old victim Furkan Doğan, is reported to have refused the Israeli offer, saying: “It is not ethical. We cannot bypass Turkey.”
In a statement published in the Habertürk daily Arıtürk claimed Israel made its offer through an envoy nearly a month ago, communicating to him: “We will transfer $6 million to an Istanbul-based Jewish foundation to pay the families of the victims the compensation. As the Israeli government we want to deliver our apology to the victims’ families, and you withdraw your case in the national and international courts.”
However, Arıtürk told the envoy his client Doğan rejected the Israeli offer as unethical behavior, adding, “We are not accepting such an offer that bypasses the Republic of Turkey.” He stated that they informed Turkey’s Foreign Ministry about the offer and subsequent refusal. “This is a crime committed against humanity. We waited for the investigations to be completed in Turkey in order to start filing the claim,” said Arıtürk.
Speaking to TRT Haber, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said he had met with Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin about indictments prepared by a Turkish prosecutor, yet to be approved by the Turkish judiciary, concerning the attack on the Mavi Marmara, the investigations into which are already complete. Commenting on the legal process Davutoğlu remarked: “Turkey is a state of law and if there is any attack against Turkish citizens in international waters, if there is death and injury as the result of an incident, Turkey as a state of law has every right to pursue appropriate measures.”