Middle East, News

Turkish NGO commemorates anniversary of Mavi Marmara raid

Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) organised the “March For Free Quds” rally on Sunday, in central Istanbul, to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the deadly 2010 Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, the Mavi Marmara.

The head of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, Bulent Yildirim, said the march on Sunday attracted thousands of people. “Last year, nearly 200,000 people attended the commemorations. I think this number will increase,” Yildirim said.

Also, numbers of Palestinians on Saturday marked the anniversary of a deadly attack by the Israeli navy on the Mavi Marmara.

Mehmet Kaya, the representative of IHH in Gaza, said the people who gathered on Saturday only wanted to remember their brothers who were killed in 2010 in their attempt to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The Gaza flotilla, created by an international coalition called the Free Gaza Movement, was attacked by the Israeli navy in international waters on May 31, 2010 as it attempted to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Nine Turkish activists were killed on board the flotilla and 30 other people were injured. One of the injured activists died nearly four years after being critically injured on board the flotilla.

The attack raised tensions between Turkey and Israel, leading Turkey tp recall its ambassador in Tel Aviv.

The tense relations were relatively eased after Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu apologised to Turkey in 2013 over the attack, but the issue of compensation to be paid the families of the victims has not been resolved between the two countries.

The Gaza Strip came under blockade by Israel and Egypt in 2007 after Hamas came to power in the enclave. The 1.8 million inhabitants of Gaza, have been deprived of many of their most basic needs under the blockade.

During Israel’s 51-day Operation Protective Edge between July and August of 2014, countless air raids and ground incursions by Israeli troops into Gaza completely destroyed the infrastructure, killing more than 2,100 Palestinians and injuring 11,000 – mostly civilians.

In a recent development, an appeal of the IHH’s lawyers to the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the previous decision by court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda not to pursue the case which demands the court prosecute Israel’s raid on the Mavi Marmara and the Gaza flotilla, and the country’s subsequent actions, was accepted by the ICC on May 7.

The Pre-Chamber of the ICC will hear testimony from the relatives and attorneys of those who were injured and killed, and this could pave the way for the international prosecution of Israeli actions during the raid.

There have been two international probes into the incident. The first inquiry was the UN Human Rights Council Fact Finding Mission (UNHRC) report which found that Israeli actions were “disproportionate” and “betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality,” and displayed “willful killing.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also undertook another investigation called the Palmer Report which concluded the Israeli actions on the Mavi Marmara were “excessive and unreasonable.”

Resource: TRT World, May 31, 2015


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