|November 6, 2012
Turkey put former Israeli military chiefs on trial in absentia for ordering a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship, prolonging a dispute between the former allies even as their interests in the region converge.
Islamist demonstrators cheered outside the Istanbul court today at the start of the trial. Hundreds of supporters of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or IHH, the Islamic charity that organized the Gaza aid ship, waved Palestinian flags and shouted anti-Israeli slogans, television footage showed. Israel outlawed the IHH in 2008 on grounds of alleged ties to Hamas.
The suspects, including ex-chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, are charged with “inciting to kill monstrously and by torturing” in the May 2010 raid. Judge Umit Kaptan said today that they couldn’t be summoned to court. Israel says extremists aboard the ship attacked commandos seeking to stop it from breaking the Gaza blockade. Several plaintiffs told the court about their ordeal during the Israeli raid, which left nine Turks dead, Anatolia said today.
While Turkey won’t be able to enforce any verdict against the Israelis, the case highlights the lack of progress in mending ties between the U.S. allies at a time when their regional interests coincide. Both countries cite concern about risks from the escalating revolt against Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Turkey has backed away from its friendship with Israel’s chief enemy, Iran.