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MK Shai: Cancel Turkish Tenders Over Indictment

Lawmaker says Israel must not remain indifferent to a Turkish indictment of four top IDF commanders.
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 5/28/2012, 7:45 PM

Nachman Shai
Nachman Shai
צילום: פלאש 90

MK Dr. Nachman Shai (Kadima) on Monday demanded the government not remain indifferent in the face of a Turkish indictment for "murder" naming four senior IDF commanders.

Specifically, Shai called on Minister of Water and Energy Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beytenu) to suspend a Turkish company's tender for work on an Israeli gas pipeline over the indictment.

"Israel cannot remain indifferent to the extremely provocative Turkish move, which carries serious implications for Israel's relations," Shai said.

"Turkey, which is attacking the IDF's senior personnel, despite our soldiers suffering injury when boarding the Turkish flotilla-ship," he added. "I intend to raise the issue immediately and simultaneously with the Economics Committee."

Shai's remarks came after an Istanbul court saw fit to indict former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi; former Navy Commander Maj. Gen. Eli Marom, former head of the Air Group Brig. Gen. Avishai Levy, and former intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin for the deaths of nine Turkish nationals who were killed when a mob attempted lynching of Israeli commandos who boarded the Mavi Marmara on 31 May 2010.

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 court is also expected press charges against several unidentified soldiers who raided the ship, the agency said. No trial date has been set.

The indictment development comes just a few days ahead of the second anniversary of the May 31 raid on the Mavi Marmara.

Last September, the United Nation's 105-page "Palmer Report" concluded that Israel's naval blockade of Hamas in Gaza is both reasonable and legal, and said the IHH – the Turkish aid group that primarily organized the 2010 flotilla - had lain in wait for the commandos.

“Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza,” the report says in its opening paragraphs. “The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”

 “There exist serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers, particularly IHH," the report also said.

Nonetheless, the report faulted the IDF for "excessive and unreasonable" force, saying Israel should have issued warnings closer to the moment of action and should have first turned to nonviolent options.

The conclusion utterly ignored that the commandos who boarded the vessel were armed with less-than-lethal 'pneumatic guns' and that 'live fire' was only employed when those proved insufficient to stop the threat to life and limb they faced.

According to the IDF - and video of the incident - the lynch mob fired on the soldiers, attacked them with metal clubs and knives, and threw one of them into the sea. It was only when the soldiers feared for their lives that they employed deadly force.

Three of the soldiers were recognized as being disabled following the confrontation.

Israeli officials said they were willing to make an "expression of regret" for the deaths, but refused Ankara's demands for a full apology saying to do so would demoralize the nation. Turkey rejected the findings of the Palmer Report amid a furious fusillade of bellicose rhetoric and reduced diplomatic ties with Israel.