A Turkish court has formally indicted former IDF Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi and several other former top IDF officers for the killing of nine people aboard a Turkish ship trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza in 2010, Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency said. The content of the indictment was leaked last week but the charges were only filed Monday.
According to the report, which was cited by the Associated Press, a court in Istanbul voted unanimously to approve an indictment against Ashkenazi, along with the former heads of Israel's navy, air force and military intelligence. They face nine consecutive life terms in prison for "inciting to kill monstrously, and by torturing," the agency added.
If the officers are convicted in absentia, the Turkish court could issue an order for their arrest, but such a move would be merely symbolic. The legal development comes just a few days ahead of the second anniversary of the May 31 raid on the Mavi Marmara.
The court will also press charges against several unidentified soldiers who raided the ship, the agency said. No trial date has been set.
Israeli crack Navy commando troops opened fire after coming under attack by terrorists who wielded handguns, axes, knives and metal rods. The terrorists fired at the soldiers, stabbed the them and threw one of them off the deck. The soldiers had rappelled on to the deck armed with less-than-lethal pneumatic guns as their primary weapons, and only resorted to using handguns after they were brutally assaulted. Three of the soldiers were recognized as being disabled following the confrontation.
The indictment, supposedly based on testimony from about 600 witnesses, claims that the passengers were only armed with sticks, spoons and forks.