Foreign ministry officials in Jerusalem discussed Monday night how to respond to charges filed by Turkey’s attorney general against four senior Israeli military officials involved in the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010.
Israel Radio reported that a court in Istanbul is expected to issue arrest warrants for former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former commander of the Navy Eliezer “Eli” Marom, former Air Force intelligence chief Avishai Levy and former military intelligence head Amos Yadlin, all of whom were indicted on charges of murdering nine Turkish activists aboard the Gaza-bound ship.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Israel Radio that “Israel would defend its people and know how to deal with these charges on a political level as well.” He recommended, however, that the four senior officials charged refrain from traveling to Turkey.
Ashkenazi said he was “certain that, at the end of the day, common sense will prevail” in Turkey. But the former chief of staff noted that he had chosen all along to defend the Israeli soldiers involved in the takeover of the Turkish ship, which tried to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. “If that means that I can no longer visit Turkey, that’s a price I’ll pay,” he said.
Earlier on Monday, Foreign Ministry officials commented that the steps taken by Turkey’s attorney general were an attempt by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to eliminate relations between the two countries.