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Israel Set to Compensate Turkey Over Mavi Marmara Deaths

Turkish officials say compensation deal to be signed soon over infamous 'Gaza Flotilla' incident in 2010.
By Ari Soffer and AFP
First Publish: 3/25/2014, 4:02 PM

Mavi Marmara
Mavi Marmara
AFP photo

Israel and Turkey will soon sign a compensation deal over the infamous "Mavi Marmara" incident according to Turkish officials. Nine Turkish Islamists were killed after violently attacking IDF soldiers during an attempt to break Israel's naval blockade on Gaza four years ago.

The May 2010 incident triggered a severe diplomatic crisis between the two countries.  

"We have received a final agreement document from Israel," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc was quoted as saying by Hurriyet newspaper's website.  

He said that after next Sunday's local elections, "our first job will be making sure the compensation is bound by a legal document".  

Talks on compensation over the nine Turks killed in the raid began in March 2013 after Israel extended a formal apology to Turkey in a breakthrough brokered by US President Barack Obama.  

The amount of compensation to be paid was believed to be among the sticking points.

In February, it was reported that Israel had offered $20 million in compensation to the families of those killed and wounded in the flotilla raid.  

Legal rights experts have reacted angrily to the prospect of Israel paying compensation for what they say was a simple act of self-defense. Israeli commandos who boarded the ship were lightly armed, and only responded with lethal force after being set upon with knives, clubs and other deadly weapons by members of IHH - the Al Qaeda-linked Turkish group which helped organize the Gaza flotilla. 

"This is an unacceptable offer, you can't compensate people who started war against you," said attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner. "The Turks sent ships to fight IDF soldiers in Israel's territorial waters, that's an act of war. The Turkel Commission checked the matter of the blockade, and found it to be legal."

She said compensating those killed would set a "dangerous precedent".

The local elections Sunday are seen as a test of the popularity of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been battling a damaging corruption scandal engulfing his inner circle since mid-December.

Meanwhile security sources revealed last December that Turkey has replaced Iran as the lead sponsor of Hamas, funneling up to $250 million a year to the terrorist organization which rules Gaza.

Last July, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said his country would not be satisfied with Israel simply paying compensation to the families of the Marmara terrorists; he insisted Israel must acknowledge that the money it is paying is a result of its committing a "wrongful act."

One of the flotilla participants who is set to receive compensation from Israel pledged last April to give all the money to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two Iranian-backed terrorist groups.