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Israel-Turkey relations at new low in Gaza flotilla row

Israel-Turkey relations at new low in Gaza flotilla row
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The Mavi Marmara sits quietly moored in Istanbul but last year’s violent events on board have driven a wedge between Turkey and Israel that’s wider than ever.

Ankara expelled Israel’s ambassador after a UN report into the assault on the Gaza-bound aid ship found Israel had used excessive force by storming it.

Journalist Mediha Olgun was on board during the Israeli raid that killed nine Turkish activists.

“I think it’s in Israel’s interest to finish this quickly. If Israel apologises and agrees to pay compensation it will end,” she said. “The Turkish government should and will support us. There will be lawsuits against Israel”.

But Israel believes the report vindicates its commandos, who it claims acted in self-defence.

The UN inquiry backed Israel’s blockade of Gaza and found that the Israeli commandos encountered “significant, organised and violent resistance” when they boarded the ship.

That conclusion has angered pro-Palestinian campaigners.

The IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation is an Islamic Turkish NGO active in more than 100 countries. It owned and operated three of the flotilla ships in the ill-fated aid convoy to Gaza in 2010, including the Mavi Marmara.

“If those who prepared this report checked data from the UN’s human rights committee they would understand the intentions of our group. This report is a total disaster. It is not acceptable,” said IHH board member Hüseyin Oruç.

It had been hoped that UN inquiry, chaired by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer, would improve relations between the one-time allies.

Instead the opposite has happened, and there is little sign of either Turkey or Israel heeding Washington’s call to patch things up.

“Turkey as a great power waited patiently for 15 months. From now on we hope that those who committed crimes will face punishment that they deserve,” said Oruç

euronews correspondent in Istanbul, Bora Bayraktar, said:

“After waiting for 15 months, the Turkish foreign ministry made the first move in the ongoing Flotilla crisis. It seems likely that Turkey will harden its stand if, as expected, Israel does not respond.”