Turkish Local Court Rejects Mavi Marmara Compensation Suit
A local Turkish court in the city of Kayseri rejected a compensation suit filed over the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, the Herriyet Daily News reported Wednesday.
Relatives of Furkan Doğan, one of the Turkish citizens killed in the raid, had requested 4 million Turkish Liras of compensation from Israel. However, the court rejected the claim, stating that Israel cannot be tried in a Turkish court.
The Mavi Marmara, which claimed to international media to be providing "humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza," was the largest ship in the flotilla aimed at breaking Israel's Gaza blockade on May 31, 2010.
The ship defied orders to turn around and dock at the Ashdod port. After it ignored repeated warnings to change course, the IDF boarded the vessel - only to be attacked by the “peaceful activists” on board.
The soldiers had no choice but to open fire, resulting in the deaths of eight Turkish nationals and one American.
After an investigation, Israeli authorities discovered the vessel to be carrying no humanitarian aid -- in fact, no aid supplies at all -- whatsoever.
At the time, Turkey placed four top IDF commanders, including former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, on trial.
Now, the Turkish court's claim that Israel cannot be tried in its legal system may reflect changes in Turkish-Israel relations.
In March, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in response to pressure from the US; talks of compensation for the victims' families began shortly afterwards.
Turkish officials reported in September to news outlets there that talks were progressing well - and that normalization between the two countries could be well on its way.
More recently, Turkish transportation officials complied this month with Israel's requests for better security at their airports, which allowed Israeli carriers to resume service to Turkey as early as next summer. Israeli officials reported that talks over the security issues were cordial and conducted in a cooperative atmosphere.
The road to Turkish-Israel normalcy has not been without problems, however. Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc stated in July that his country will not be satisfied with Israel simply paying compensation to the Marmara victims; Israel would also have to admit that defending itself during the raid was a wrongful act.
Arinc noted at the time that an agreement between the two countries would affect local suits in Turkey for victims' compensation. Wednesday's ruling may be a confirmation of more progress in talks.
Not everyone agrees that this agreement is positive, of course. The head of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation’s (İHH) Kayseri branch declared they would appeal the ruling.
“Turkey’s legal system guarantees its citizens right to open trials against all the unjust actions that they become subject to inside or outside the country,” Şaban Sözduyar said. He believed the ruling would eventually be reversed.
The İHH, which claims to be a "humanitarian organization" based on Islamic principles, spearheaded the incitement. The group operated the Mavi Marmara and was also one of the main organizers of the Gaza Flotilla.
“No persecution by any country, especially Israel, should remain unanswered,” he insisted.