Lawyer: Israel Offered $6 Million to Victims of Turkish Flotilla
Israel has offered to pay $6 million to the victims of the 2010 Mavi Marmara Turkish flotilla ship in order to settle lawsuits against the Israeli military, a Turkish lawyer said Thursday.
However, a senior Israeli official, requesting anonymity, said that while Israel had indicated last year that it would be willing to take such measures without accepting blame, the offer has not since been renewed.
Turkish-Israeli relations soured in May 2010 when Israeli naval commandos raided the flotilla, seeking to prevent the unauthorized ship infiltrating Israel’s borders and providing a risk to the country’s national security.
The incident resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists.
Ramazan Arıtürk, one of several lawyers representing the victims, told Reuters that the Israeli government had made a proposal to him through an intermediary foreign ambassador in Ankara just over one month ago.
He said the money would have been paid to a Jewish foundation in Turkey for distribution, followed by a statement of "regret."
"I told the ambassador I did not think the offer was appropriate or moral and also discussed the issue with the victims and their friends and they also stated that they could not accept this," Arıtürk said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry agreed with his decision, saying Israel should have contacted it directly.
Arıtürk declined to disclose the nationality of the ambassador or reveal the name of the Jewish foundation to which the payment would have been made, noted the Hurriyet Daily News.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev declined to comment.
Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador and froze all military cooperation with its former ally after a U.N. report into the incident last September largely exonerated the Jewish state.
While Netanyahu has voiced “regret” over the incident, Turkey has demanded a formal apology alongside compensation for the victims.
On Wednesday an Istanbul prosecutor submitted an indictment seeking life sentences for four former Israeli military commanders in connection with the raid, including the Chief of General Staff at the time.
The U.N. report on the raid last September concluded Israel had used unreasonable force but that the blockade of Gaza was legal.