Turkish families reject Israel compensation talks

Relatives of those killed in raid on Mavi Marmara in May 2010 say they will not drop lawsuits, demand end to Gaza blockade

Israeli Navy vessels escort the Mavi Marmara to the port of Ashdod, May 31, 2010. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Israeli Navy vessels escort the Mavi Marmara to the port of Ashdod, May 31, 2010. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Families of the victims of the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara in May 2010 are objecting to compensation talks between Turkey and Israel, saying the Jewish state must first fully lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

On Saturday, the relatives of the nine activists killed on board the Gaza-bound ship also said they would not drop lawsuits filed against former Israeli military commanders they hold responsible for the deaths.

The announcement came days before an Israeli delegation is due in Turkey to discuss compensation for the victims.

Earlier this month, an Istanbul court heard the charges that were filed against four of the most senior retired commanders, including former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, in absentia, something Israel has characterized as a politically motivated stunt.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month for operational errors made in the raid that ended with the deaths of nine Turkish nationals aboard the blockade-busting vessel.

In a phone conversation during the final moments of US President Barack Obama’s visit in March, Netanyahu promised compensation for the victims and their families and agreed to ease but not lift Israel’s blockade of Gaza in return for Ankara dropping the lawsuits — potentially paving the way for normalization between the two countries for the first time in three years.

Turkey had demanded $1 million for each of the families of the nine Turkish citizens who were killed after the activists attacked IDF commandos who commandeered the boat; Israel had said it was willing to pay $100,000 to the families. The enormous gulf between the expectations of the two countries prompted officials to establish a commission in late March to resolve the matter.

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