Jerusalem, Sept. 4 – The much-anticipated United Nations report on the Turkish-based flotilla that tried reaching Hamas-run Gaza on May 31, 2010 was released this weekend. It found that Israel’s security blockade of Gaza is legal and appropriate but that Israeli forces that tried to deter the flotilla from reaching Gaza used excessive force. The report, however, states that Israeli commandos that boarded the Mavi Marmara, one of the flotilla’s ships, faced organized and violent resistance.
On Friday morning (Sept. 2), Turkish Foreign Minister announced a series of measures against Israel, beginning with the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and the downgrading of bilateral relations to the level of second secretary. Turkey also suspended all military ties with Israel.
Ankara says Israel's expression of sorrow over the loss of life aboard the Mavi Marmara is insufficient.
At the start of his weekly cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Israel’s stance vis-à-vis the U.N. report. He said that “Israel has the full and basic right to defend itself” and that it is justified in trying to stop weapons smuggling to the Iran-backed terror regime in Gaza, Hamas.
“I reiterate that the State of Israel expresses regret over the loss of life. I also hope that a way will be found to overcome the disagreement with Turkey. Israel has never wanted a deterioration in its relations with Turkey; neither is Israel interested in such deterioration now,” Netanyahu added.
Israel and Turkey had developed extensive military ties for more than a decade. Israel gained an ally in the region while Turkey gained access to Israel’s military technology.
“The Israeli air force trained in Turkish airspace, and the two countries conducted joint naval exercises," The Washington Post reported.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also said Turkey may be preparing to challenge Israel's blockade of Gaza at the International Court of Justice.
The report found that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and that all products intended for Gaza should be sent in coordination with Israel and the Palestinian Authority via the land crossings.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s exports to Israel went up by $2 billion from 2010 to 2011 although political relations soured after the Mavi Marmara incident on May 31, 2010, CNN reported. Weapons contracts will still be honored despite the suspension of military ties and intelligence sharing will continue as well.