Turkish IHH: We'll Reject Any Israeli Offer for Compensation
The Turkish organization IHH, which was behind the 2010 flotilla to Gaza, declared on Thursday it would oppose an Israeli offer to pay compensation to the victims of the Mavi Marmara incident in exchange for the group dropping lawsuits over the attack.
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 Islamist extremists on board.
The soldiers had no choice but to open fire, resulting in the deaths of nine of the IHH members on board.
After an investigation, Israeli authorities discovered the vessel to be carrying no humanitarian aid - in fact, no aid supplies at all - whatsoever.
When Israel refused Turkey’s demands to apologize for raiding the Marmara, Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Israel and expelled the Israeli ambassador in Ankara.
It was under pressure from U.S. President Barack Obama that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized last March to Erdogan for the deaths of the activists on the Marmara and talks began on the compensation agreement.
According to Reuters, IHH said on Thursday it had been in close contact with Turkish government officials and had heard Israel and Turkey were about to finalize the terms of a formal settlement.
"We are hearing that an agreement will soon be announced on the compensation Israeli state will pay as an outcome of talks ... One of Israel's conditions is to drop the court cases," said Ugur Yildirim, a lawyer for IHH, was quoted as having said.
"We are warning the authorities against this clear violation of global law principles," he told reporters.
The son of one person who died aboard the Mavi Marmara told the news conference the families would accept neither apology nor compensation.
"We do not accept any agreements unless the blockade on Gaza is lifted. Israel will have to take a step back if we stand tall," Ismail Bilgen told reporters, according to Reuters.
In January, Turkish anti-terror police raided the IHH offices over the group’s alleged links to Al-Qaeda, which it denies.
That raid came after Turkish media reported that security forces had seized a truck loaded with arms and ammunition on the Syrian border.
The drivers had claimed they were carrying aid on behalf of IHH but the group denied the allegations as "slanderous".