Israel offers $6 million to Flotilla Victims says Turkish Lawyer
Turkish lawyer claims this was Israel’s offer to victims of 2010 raid on Gaza-bound ship
According to Turkish lawyer Ramazan Ariturk, one of several lawyers representing victims and their families in a lawsuit against the Israeli military for Israel’s raid of a Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla in 2010, Israel has offered to pay them a total of $6 million to settle, Reuters reported.
Ariturk, who along with his colleagues are representing 465 victims and family members, claimed on Thursday that the Israeli government made this proposal to him through an intermediary foreign ambassador in Turkey’s capital of Ankara just over a month ago.
The money would be distributed amongst the victims by a Jewish foundation in Turkey and would be accompanied by a statement of “regret” from the Israeli government, said Ariturk, who would neither specify which Jewish foundation he was referring to nor the nationality of the foreign ambassador.
“I told the ambassador I did not think the offer was appropriate or moral and also discussed the issue with the victims and their friends and they also stated that they could not accept this,” he said.
However, a senior Israeli official, speaking anonymously, said that Israel had not renewed an offer from last year when the government indicated that it was prepared to indemnify victims without accepting blame, according to Reuters.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry indicated that it agreed with Ariturk’s rejection of the supposed offer and said that it should have been first contacted by Israel directly. Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, declined to comment.
The conflict between Israel and Turkey began in 2010 when Israeli commandos boarded the Gaza-bound Turkish Mavi Marmara, which claimed to be carrying humanitarian aid, after warning the ship not to sail into waters near the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. Nine Turks were killed in the clash and Turkey broke off diplomatic relations with Israel following the incident.
After a UN report into the incident last September which largely absolved Israel for its actions at the time, Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and froze all military cooperation with its former ally.
Turkey has demanded a formal apology from Israel in addition to compensation for victims and the families of those who were killed, but Netanyahu has only officially expressed “regret” thus far.
On Wednesday, Istanbul-based newspaper Sabah reported that a Turkish prosecutor had issued an indictment seeking life sentences for former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi and three former senior commanders over their alleged involvement in the incident, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Israel had no response to the report, which described a 144-page indictment that included 10 life sentences to be given to Ashkenazi, former head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, former Israel Navy head Adm. (res.) Eliezer Marom, and former IAF intelligence head Brig.-Gen. Avishai Levy.
“We have not received the indictment,” said an Israeli Foreign Ministry official who first heard of the indictment from the Turkish media.
“If, indeed, an indictment was filed, then after we receive study and understand it, then we can respond. But in the meantime there is nothing for us to say.”