Turkey has fulfilled its promise of “remembering” the Gaza Flotilla Incident in May 2010 and particularly the victims of the actions of the Israeli commandos in the IDF’s (Israeli Defense Force) Operation Sky Winds against the human rights activists’ Gaza Flotilla that was bringing aid and other supplies through the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had previously recited the names of the nine activists killed, including the name of a Turkish-American citizen, at a recent conference of Palestinian ambassadors in the city of Istanbul.
Turkey had initially demanded both an investigation and an apology from Israel regarding the deaths and “excessive use” of force by the Israeli Defense Force.
However as time went on and clear signs from Israel indicated that no apologies were going to be made, Turkey began to focus more on the apology and compensation for the victims’ families along with the ultimate lifting of the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Prime Minister Erdoğan has repeatedly emphasized that it would be “unthinkable” for Turkey to “normalize” its relations with Israel.
Reactions from Israel varied:
Israel did say the deaths of the nine activists were “regrettable” but issued no apology and instead defended the actions of its commandos stating that the commandos were attacked by makeshift weapons by those on the MV Mavi Marmara and forced to act.
The government of Israel also expressed that it was willing to give money to a fund set up by the Turkish government to compensate the victims’ families indirectly as direct compensation would basically be the equivalent of apologizing for the military’s actions.
Lastly, the latest reaction was given by Israel’s Foreign Minister Avidor Lieberman who berated Turkey saying, “the ones who need to apologize is the Turkish government…there will be no apology, and if there is one, we are expecting it from Ankara.”
And so the end result is that Turkey has expelled Israel’s ambassador and diplomats above the second secretary level from within the country’s borders. Furthermore, after waiting for an apology after the United Nations recently released its report regarding the Gaza Flotilla Incident, the Turkish government instead received Israel’s “acceptance” of the report but no apology.
So Turkey has suspended military cooperation with Israel. The suspension of military cooperation includes military pacts and agreements with Israel.
This latest move by Turkey adds to the list of Turkey’s past actions which include its withdrawal of the Turkish ambassador to Israel, suspension of joint military exercises and military access (particularly the ban on Israeli military aircraft from Turkish air space).
Israel was forced to respond by stating that it will “somehow work out” the dispute.