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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs