Extremist attackers aboard the Mavi Marmara
Extremist attackers aboard the Mavi Marmara Israel news photo: IDF Spokesperson's Office

Turkey is demanding that Israel pay $1 million in compensation per family of each terror activist killed during clashes with IDF soldiers in May 2010 on the illegal Mavi Marmara flotilla to Gaza. Israel, however, does not agree to the terms, and is offering to compensate each family $100,000 apiece. 

The disparity is only part of a wider discussion centering on the differing view of what actually happened aboard the Turkish-owned vessel the night the flotilla attempted to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza.

Immediately following the incident – which included the violation of Israeli law by a ship’s captain who ignored repeated requests to change course and head for Ashdod port – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador from Ankara, and severed military ties, refusing to restore relations for the past three years despite numerous attempts by Israel to repair the breach.

The Turkish prime minister demanded a full, formal apology by Israel’s prime minister as well as financial compensation to the families of the armed men killed after attacking IDF soldiers as they boarded the ship by way of a rope hanging from a helicopter.

In addition, Erdogan demanded the Israeli government lift its blockade of Gaza, a security measure implemented to prevent the import of weaponry and ordnance by terrorists for use in their attacks on civilians and soldiers in southern Israel.

Turkish Foreign Ministry Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted Tuesday as telling journalists in Doha on the sidelines of an Arab League gathering, “We had three conditions for normalization of relations: an apology, compensation and lifting of the blockade.

“As you know, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu officially apologized and said the necessary steps will be taken, and the blockade will be lifted.” Netanyahu made the apology in a phone call Friday afternoon with the personal intervention of U.S. President Barack Obama in a trailer on the tarmac of Ben Gurion International Airport, just prior to Obama’s departure for Jordan.

Also on Tuesday, Erdogan told the Turkish parliament that Ankara would henceforth become more involved in “solving the Palestinian issue, and thus bringing about a new equation.”

However, preventing arms from reaching Gaza is a national security issue for Israel. On Sunday, the head of Israel’s National Security Council, Yaakov Amidror, stated bluntly that the blockade would not be lifted.

Negotiating teams for restoration of ties between Turkey (led by Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu, former Ambassador to Israel) and Israel (led by Joseph Ciechanover) are to set begin meeting this week to discuss these and other issues.