News / Europe

Israeli Troops Fired from Air in 2010 Ship Raid, Turkish Court Told

A banner depicting the faces of the nine men killed, displayed on the Mavi Marmara ship, on its returns, in Istanbul, Turkey, 26 December 2010.A banner depicting the faces of the nine men killed, displayed on the Mavi Marmara ship, on its returns, in Istanbul, Turkey, 26 December 2010.
x
A banner depicting the faces of the nine men killed, displayed on the Mavi Marmara ship, on its returns, in Istanbul, Turkey, 26 December 2010.
A banner depicting the faces of the nine men killed, displayed on the Mavi Marmara ship, on its returns, in Istanbul, Turkey, 26 December 2010.
Reuters
An anti-war activist told a Turkish court on Thursday that Israeli commandos opened fire from a helicopter during a raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship three years ago, countering Israeli assertions that the soldiers had acted in self-defense.
 
Israeli marines stormed the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara, part of a flotilla carrying aid to Palestinians, on May 31, 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Palestinian-run Gaza Strip. Nine Turks were killed in clashes on board.
 
The incident triggered a diplomatic crisis between Israel and Turkey, two of Washington's strategic allies in the Middle East, and relations remain fraught.
 
The trial in absentia of four retired Israeli commanders, including the ex-head of the army, opened in Istanbul last November and resumed on Thursday with testimony from those who were aboard and relatives of the dead.
 
Israel has dismissed it as a political “show trial”.
 
Kenneth O'Keefe, an Irish-Palestinian former U.S. Marine turned anti-war activist who was on board the aid ship, told the court that Israeli soldiers had started shooting from the helicopter, killing several people.
 
“Within 5 to 10 minutes after the Israeli helicopter approached the ship, I ran into Cevdet Kiliclar's dead body on the deck, before any Israeli commando had boarded the vessel,” O'Keefe said, referring to one of the Turkish activists.
 
“He must have been shot from the air. After seeing Kiliclar's dead body, I went upstairs to the top of the deck and saw several people lying on the ground, wounded or dead.”
 
A September 2011 U.N. report into the incident cited an Israeli commission of inquiry as saying that three stun grenades were thrown from the helicopter but no shots were fired as the Israeli soldiers descended onto the vessel.
 
“The soldiers from the first helicopter were met with an extreme level of violence from a group of passengers on the vessel. They were shot at and attacked with clubs, iron rods, slingshots and knives,” the report said, summarizing Israel's own investigation.
 
It said the Israeli soldiers resorted to lethal weapons “in response to the violent resistance faced”.
 
Little sign of rapprochement
 
Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador and froze military cooperation after the 2011 U.N. report largely exonerated the Jewish state and concluded that while Israel had used unreasonable force, its blockade on Gaza was legal.
 
NATO member Turkey set precise conditions for normalizing its once-extensive ties - an apology, compensation and Israel lifting its embargo on Gaza.
 
U.S. President Barack Obama brokered an apology from Israel in March and delegations from the two countries subsequently discussed compensation terms, but there has been little sign of concrete progress since then.
 
The Turkish indictment seeks multiple life sentences for the now-retired Israeli officers over their involvement in the nine killings and the wounding of more than 50 others.
 
The 144-page indictment names Israel's former Chief-of-Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and three other senior commanders. It lists “inciting murder through cruelty or torture” and “inciting injury with firearms” among the charges.
 
A few hundred protesters waved Palestinian and Turkish flags and chanted anti-Israeli slogans outside the Istanbul courthouse. The hearing was adjourned to March 27, 2014.

You May Like

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid