The Turkish justice minister has ordered all legal proceedings against Israeli soldiers and commanders involved in a May 2010 attack on a Turkish aid ship be dropped, Israeli news portal Ynet reported Friday, citing US sources.
The report states that sources from the US State Department claim Turkish prosecutors were instructed to withdraw all proceedings against Israeli elements involved in giving the order to take over the ship as well as those who actively raided the vessel.
“According to the sources, the State Department said that this decision is linked to US efforts to defuse tensions between Israel and Turkey. This includes attempts by Israeli envoy to Turkey David Meidan to find a formula which will allow the sides to end hostility,” the report said.
Eight Turks and a Turkish-American were killed aboard the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship that was part of an international humanitarian aid flotilla which tried to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza in May 2010. A UN report about the raid, released in September 2011, stated that activists on board the Mavi Marmara had attacked the raiding naval commandos. It went on to describe the blockade of Gaza as legitimate, although it also accused Israel of using disproportionate force against activists.
Turkey rejected the report's findings, saying it would never recognize the blockade's legitimacy and insisted on an Israeli apology as well as compensation for the deaths as a precondition for the normalization of a relationship once seen as a cornerstone of regional stability. Turkish-Israeli tensions have continued to escalate since then, with Turkey downgrading its diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.
In May of last year, reports emerged that a Turkish prosecutor investigating the raid had written to Israeli authorities requesting information on the identities of the Israeli soldiers who were involved in the attack and some Turkish dailies later published the names of a total of 174 people, including the soldiers who are thought to have taken part in the raid and those who ordered the attack. Turkish dailies also reported in October that the prosecutor had reportedly written to the Turkish Justice Ministry, requesting Interpol red notices for the 174 Israeli soldiers and commanders.