Former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi responded Tuesday to Turkey’s indictment of himself and three other Israeli army officers a day earlier, saying that he is ready to do what it takes to defend Israel’s soldiers.
“If I’m not able to visit Turkey, that’s a price I’ll pay,” Ashkenazi said. “I’m sure at the end of the day common sense will prevail. From the very first moment I decided to be present at every forum in order to protect the soldiers.”
Ashkenazi was one of four commanders indicted in absentia by Turkey for the deaths of nine Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara ship, which tried to break Israel’s blockade in Gaza. The four officers, Ashkenazi, former commander of the navy Eliezer Marom, former air force intelligence chief Avishai Levy and former military intelligence head Amos Yadlin, face 18,000 years in jail for the nine deaths and “torturing” 104 others.
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called on European countries not to cooperate with the “Turkish provocation” during his meeting with the new German President Joachim Gauck.
Liberman responded that the Turkish provocation was unfounded: “Israel has acted with maximum restraint against defiant Turkish actions in recent years, but we will not allow it to intimidate our officers and soldiers, who operate under the highest ethical standards and international law.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon also said that “Israel would defend its people” on Tuesday.