By Ayse Humeyra Atilgan
The International Criminal Court is expected to officially announce on Thursday that Israel is guilty of “war crimes” for its attack on an aid ship bound for Gaza in 2010, the president of a Turkish NGO said Wednesday.
Prosecutors of the International Criminal Court have come to this conclusion about the 2010 Israeli raid on the Humanitarian Aid Flotilla bound for Gaza Strip, Bulent Yildirim, president of the Turkish NGO, IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, said at a press conference in Istanbul.
In May 2010, Israeli commandos killed eight Turkish nationals and an American of Turkish origin in a raid on the Mavi Marmara, a ship then in international waters, in the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla”, carrying humanitarian aid and construction materials for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which was under an Israeli blockade at the time.
The president said the prosecutors had also determined that "Israel has occupant status in Gaza Strip, as it continues to have effective control over Gaza."
Prosecutors said Israeli soldiers carried out the attack even though they knew that the passengers on the aid ship were civilians, who are under the protection of international humanitarian law.
"UN and Amnesty International have already stated that the Israel attacks were war crimes," Yildirim said, adding that the International Criminal Court passed the case on to national courts because the number of deaths in the incident was too low for the scope of the international tribunal.
Yildirim said his organization will object to the court's position on this subject.
All the statements of the prosecutors will "also be used to defend the rights of thousands of civilians in Gaza killed by Israel," Yildirim, the presdident of the foundation, said.
Relatives of the Mavi Marmara victims were present at Wednesday's press conference, including 26-year-old Ismail Bilgen, who lost his father in May 2010.
"I feel honored that my father was killed when he was defending Palestinian rights," he told the Anadolu Agency, with tears in his eyes.
The prosecutors' statements were steps towards victory against Israel, Bilgen said. "We will maintain our belief that no normalisation can be achieved with Israel until they are punished for what they did."
Bilgen said he very much wanted to join in the next Mavi Marmara aid ship, which, according to the foundation president, is almost ready for a new convoy to Gaza.
"Israeli consul-general should be sent away"
On Wednesday, a number of Jewish settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the president said all the people, including Muslims, Christians, and Jewish, should stand against Israeli attacks on Palestinians.
The attacks came following clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers inside Al-Aqsa complex.
"At least 15 Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets, including two in the head and one in the eye, while dozens suffered from teargas inhalation," a Palestinian guard at the holy complex told AA.
According to the guard, as many as 60 Israeli troops stormed into the compound's courtyards through Al-Magharbeh and Al-Silsila gates and began shooting randomly at the worshippers.
The president also said the new Consul-General of Israel should immediately be recalled from Turkey.
"How could the consul-general of Israel, which kills babies and civilians, give Turkey messages of cooperation against ISIL," he criticised. "We will not allow any normalization with Israel, the baby-killer."
In a recent interview with the Turkish daily Hurriyet, the newly appointed Israeli Consul-General Shai Cohen said the fight against ISIL should not be left to the Turkish government and Turkish security forces alone.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.