Turkish people have marched in the city of Istanbul to mark the anniversary of Israel’s deadly attack against the civilian ships of an aid flotilla as it was carrying humanitarian assistance to the besieged Gaza Strip in 2010.
Demonstrators, on Wednesday, shouted slogans in solidarity with the Gazan people, who have been living under an Israeli blockade for the past decade. The families of those who had been on board one of the ships, the Turkish Mavi Marmara, demanded that the Israeli politicians and military officials be prosecuted over the raid.
Israeli naval commandos, from speedboats and helicopters, attacked the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, comprising six civilian ships, in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea on May 31, 2010, killing nine Turkish citizens and injuring about 50 other people. A tenth Turkish national later succumbed to his injuries.
Israel’s military raid against the civilian flotilla was met with global condemnation. The United Nations Security Council called for a prompt investigation into the incident and the United Nations Human Rights Council described the attack as “outrageous.” A large number of human rights groups also strongly slammed the raid, while dozens of protests were held in support of the victims’ cause in several countries, including Turkey, Indonesia, Lebanon, and Sweden.
In September 2010, Turkey suspended its military ties with Israel and expelled the Israeli envoy from Ankara over Tel Aviv’s refusal to apologize for the killing. Four years later, a criminal court in Turkey issued arrest warrants for four Israeli military officers, deemed by Ankara as the main culprits in the case, and turned over the warrants to Interpol to arrest the suspects, but to no avail.
Turkey and Israel, however, normalized relations in June 2016 after a series of not very public negotiations. An agreement to normalize the ties entailed the payment of $20 million in compensation for the families of the victims.
Gaza, a coastal sliver on the Mediterranean, is where Palestinian resistance movements enjoy massive public support. The territory has seen brutal wars by Israel over the past years, the last one having been in the summer of 2014, when more than 2,200 Palestinians were killed in Israeli military raids.
The area continues to suffer from the destruction left behind from the war. Israel continues to prevent the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and the blockade, since its imposition in June 2007, has caused a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented unemployment and poverty.