News / Middle East

Turkey, Israel Set for New Clash Over Second Gaza Aid Flotilla

Workers work on the cruise liner Mavi Marmara which is under maintenance in a shipyard in Istanbul May 30, 2011
Workers work on the cruise liner Mavi Marmara which is under maintenance in a shipyard in Istanbul May 30, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Dorian Jones

Turkey is commemorating the first anniversary of Israeli forces' attack on an aid flotilla headed to Gaza that left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.  The deaths - eight Turkish citizens and an American citizen of Turkish descent - have ruptured relations between once close allies.

The crowd chanted "Damnation to Israel," as they marched through the center of Istanbul to remember the nine people killed by Israel's security forces while on the Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara.  The international flotilla last year hoped to break the Israeli economic blockade of Palestinians living on the Gaza Strip.

Those marching on the one-year anniversary are still angry over the killings.

PERSON1: "There was blood, violence and tears on Mavi Marmara, and we are still feeling that pain.  We lost our nine brothers, and Israel is responsible for this."

PERSON2: "They killed our brothers on [the] Marmara ship and in Palestine.  [They] always kill our brothers, and we protest Israel, and we say that Israelis [are] terrorists."

Since the incident, the two nations continue to exchange angry barbs over who was responsible for the deaths on the Turkish flagship.

The flotilla's organizers - the Free Gaza Movement and the Foundation for Human Rights, Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH), a Turkish aid group - have been planning an even larger event this year, reportedly with a 15-vessel flotilla with more than 1,000 international activists on board.

IHH deputy chief Huseyin Oruc says the international controversy about last year's killings offers protection to the ship.

"Now the whole world knows that this mission is a peaceful mission," said Oruc.  "Any international committee can come to check the boats.  And this is the only way to defend the boats.  Now the whole world will watch the boats will follow the boat, and Israel will not make the same mistake again."

Israel accuses the IHH of being more a political organization than a charity, claiming it has close links to Hamas, which the European Union and the U.S. consider a terrorist organization, a charge the charity denies.

But in an attempt to dispel such criticisms, this year's flotilla is more broadly supported by organizations around the world.  A total of 15 countries, mainly from Europe, are providing ships.  The organizers claim such support will stop Israel from military intervention.

But Dror Feilier, spokesman for the Swedish ship, says they are still preparing for the worse.

"It will be passive resistance, in Sweden, and in other countries, we are going to train all the passengers in non-violent resistance, we are not giving the boats away," said Feilier.

But Israel continues to defend its actions and warns it will continue to enforce its economic embargo.  The possibility of another showdown has led the United States to lobby Ankara to stop the flotilla.

But Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu ruled out any intervention.

It should be known that Turkey will give the necessary response to any repeated act of provocation by Israel on the high seas, he said.  Davutoglu added that those who believe Turkey should take certain steps to stop the new flotilla must first warn Israel not to repeat the human tragedy it caused last year.

Turkey's ruling AK party's tough stance towards Israel and, in particular, its support of the flotilla, does play well with the country's large religious population, according to political scientist Nuray Mert of Istanbul University.  She says with the country in the midst of a general election, that could be a key factor in government policy.  

"There are these speculations that, well, it's part of the election campaign," said Mert.  "It may be an effort to renew the popularity and renew the enthusiasm that they had the last year.  It's a popular cause, and it will work for the present governing party."

Turkish voters go to the polls on June 12.  With the flotilla due to set sail sometime in the last week of June, observers say time is running out to avoid the risk of another high seas confrontation.

 

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More