Turkey has strongly denied reports that it had launched a probe into some of the country’s Jewish citizens on the grounds that they had collaborated with Israel in the deadly 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara flotilla which killed nine Turks, Today’s Zaman reports.
“There has never been anti-Semitism in any part of our history and there will never be. Racism does not exist in the culture and the tradition of the Turkish nation. Turkey has repeatedly said it considers anti-Semitism and racism as crimes against humanity, ” Selçuk Ünal, Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, said, according to the report.
Ünal said legal procedures are underway to identify possible perpetrators of the Mavi Marmara incident, adding that those legal procedures had nothing to do with Turkey’s “Jewish community who are equal citizens and an integral part of our society.”
The Turkish media claimed last week that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) identified five Turkish citizens who were allegedly either among the Israeli troops who raided the Mavi Marmara or among those who interrogated the victims following the raid on the ship in May 2010.
According to reports, the names and addresses of the five have been identified, at the request of the prosecutor’s office, thanks to the efforts of the MİT and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The MİT conducted an investigation into all Turkish citizens leaving Turkey for Israel at least two weeks before and returning up to two weeks after the Mavi Marmara incident, and sent the information regarding these five Turkish citizens who are allegedly part of the elite Israeli naval commando Shayetet 13, to the Istanbul 7th High Criminal Court.
The Marmara incident involved nine armed terror activists who attacked Israeli commandos in a clash aboard the Mavi Marmara flotilla ship. The vessel, owned by the Turkish IHH group, was one of six sent to illegally breach Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza as a “humanitarian flotilla” but was found to be carrying nothing.
When the vessels ignored repeated Israeli navy requests to redirect their boats to Ashdod port, IDF commandos boarded each vessel to force them to port, where the humanitarian aid they were allegedly carrying could be off-loaded and carried to Gaza through the land crossings with Israel.
In the case of the Mavi Marmara, however, the Israeli soldiers – armed only with pistols and paint-ball training guns — were brutally attacked by the “activists” as they boarded, with several critically injured. The commandos who followed them shot and killed their attackers, leaving nine dead.
The incident caused Israel’s relationship with Turkey, already strained, to break down completely. Turkish leaders demanded an apology, but Israeli leaders refused, saying Israel had acted in self-defense.
Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has emphasized them Israel is ready to solve any outstanding disputes with Turkey, but it will not apologize to Ankara for the raid on the Mavi Marmara.
“We are ready to discuss [our problems with Turkey] in high-level or low-level open meetings,” said Lieberman. “We’re really ready to discuss not only this issue but also the Iranian problem, the Gaza issue or the support for Hamas. But [we’re not ready] to discuss in what way we will protect our citizens.”
“[The Mavi Marmara mission] was a clear provocation and it was our right to protect the lives of our soldiers. Frankly speaking, Israel has no reason to apologize,” he added.
Turkey plans to try four top IDF commanders for the Marmara raid.
The accused officials are: Former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former Navy Chief Eliezer Marom, former Military Intelligence head Amos Yadlin and former Air Force Intelligence Chief Avishai Levy.
The trial was due to start in November, but it has been adjourned until February.