Turkish Reaction to Flotilla Attack
In Turkey, Israel’s unconscionable and ruthless act of aggression against the Turkish aid ship the Mavi Marmara in the Free Gaza Flotilla, has stirred deep anger. Turkeys deputy Prime Minister has called the killings an act of war and there have been angry demonstrations. Once close allies in the region (sharing military training), Turkey’s relationship with Israel has deteriorated in recent months but these killings will surely seal enmity. Turkey has become increasingly intolerant of Israel’s military operations against Palestinian people and more publicly vocal in its condemnation of the blockade which has denied Palestinians food and medical supplies for the past 3 years.
Within hours of the IDF’s commando assault, tens of thousands of people marched from the Israeli Consulate to Istanbul’s Taksim Square to protest the storming of the Turkish ship and the killing of peaceful civilians.
The Turkish NGO, Foundation for Human Rights and Humanitarian relief (IHH) which was centrally involved in organising the shipment of aid to Palestinians in Gaza has demanded the immediate expulsion of Israeli diplomats from Turkey. Abdurrahman Dilipak, Vakit journalist and Turkish intellectual appealed to all international organisations, friends of Palestine and NGOs to take swift and decisive political action against Israel. But the Turks I spoke with, recognise that they cannot rely on European and American politicians, nor the UN, to act decisively against the criminal Israeli state. Yucel Sayman, former President of the Istanbul Bar Association said, ‘This is a gross violation of International Law and the Geneva Convention, it is a crime against humanity and a crime against the international community on a Turkish ship in international waters. Those killed belong to a peaceful non-extremist Islamic NGO. I hope the Security Council will take the robust measures against Israel but I don’t believe they will’.
The IDF’s claim that its soldiers were in danger from those on board and that the killings were in self-defence has infuriated Turkish NGOs and friends of those on board the Mavi Marmara. Muslime Krn, head of Hayirlarde Yaris Dernegi has friends on board the besieged Turkish ship: ‘There were no weapons on board. I spoke with my friend Gulden Sonmez, head of the Women’s section of the IHH before they sailed. She told me that every passenger went through a security check. The claim that they carried knives and weapons is wrong. These are not criminals, they are good people. They can do nothing when someone shoots at them … I was waiting for something like this to happen but I was shocked. My husband cried a little when he heard the news. My youngest son said ‘I will go to Israel and take a bomb’.’ For now Muslime can only wait for news from her friends; the Israelis have confiscated all passenger mobile phones and means of communication with the outside world. She describes Israel as, ‘the bad spoilt child of the West’ and she says it is ‘only the West can give Israel this lesson and I dont understand why they don’t do this’.