Home > Political Affairs, War & Dystrophy > Israeli assault on Gaza flotilla draws sharp reaction from Turkish civil society

Israeli assault on Gaza flotilla draws sharp reaction from Turkish civil society

© Today's Zaman

Today’s Zaman

Israeli assault on Gaza flotilla draws sharp reaction from Turkish civil society

Thousands of Turks took to the streets on Monday in protest of a pre-dawn Israeli assault on a flotilla of aid ships bound for the Gaza Strip which left up to 19 people dead and dozens wounded.

The aid ships, dubbed the Freedom Flotilla, were taking badly needed humanitarian supplies to the people of the Gaza Strip, who have for the past three years been living under a harsh economic blockade. The Israeli assault came as the ships were sailing in international waters.

The assault drew strong condemnation by Turkish civil society, which denounced the Israeli violence with massive rallies throughout the day yesterday.

A group of around 2,000 people had convened in İstanbul’s Taksim Square before noon. Carrying Turkish and Palestinian flags, the group chanted anti-Israeli slogans and called on the Turkish government to take action against the disproportionate use of force by Israeli soldiers against civilians. “Down with Israel!” “Greetings to Palestine and aid ships; go ahead with resistance!” and “Turkish soldiers to Israel!” chanted the protestors.

Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) President Tekin Küçükali said his organization was ready to provide medical assistance to civilians injured during the Israeli attack. “The armed raid on civilians carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza has opened a deep wound in people’s consciences. We are ready to undertake any responsibility to take the injured to secure places and take care of their wounds there,” he stated.

In the meantime, officials at the Antalya Customs Office announced that passengers on the Turkish ships in the aid convoy did not have any weapons or even a knife on them. “All passengers boarded the ships after being screened. Our records show that no weapons were detected on them,” they said.

The announcement refutes Israeli claims that the activists were carrying weapons and munitions to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH) expressed concern that Israeli security forces may plant weapons on the aid ships after seizing control. “Let alone a weapon, there wasn’t even a jackknife onboard the ships. But the ships are currently under Israeli control, and the Israelis may place weapons or munitions on the ships to back up their assertions,” İHH Vice President Yavuz Dede said. İHH is one of the main coordinators of the Freedom Flotilla.

Ahmet Mercan, another İHH official, said Israel’s bloody raid on aid activists was a “unilateral war” waged against unarmed civilians. “The assault has shown that Israel is not a state or a society. It is a terrorist organization. The world is now faced with a test. Will it side with human rights or not? How will the world react in the face of such an assault? Israel initiated a war. This is a unilateral war being waged on civilians. This is a war waged on 50 countries. This is a war waged on the collective conscience of humanity,” he said.

Members of Turkey’s Jewish community also condemned the attack, saying they share Turkey’s feelings about the killings of activists on the aid ships. “We are saddened to learn that a military operation was launched against the Mavi Marmara [one of the Turkish ships in the flotilla]. We share the reactions the operation sparked in our country [Turkey],” read a statement issued by the community.

Thousands of people living in İstanbul and Ankara have been in front of the Israeli Embassy and Consulate since the early hours of Monday to protest the killings of the unarmed civilians. Police tightened security measures around the buildings, preventing protestors from entering the embassy or consulate.

‘Attack damaged Turkish-Israeli ties’

A statement issued by the Independent Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (MÜSİAD) said the Israeli assault had damaged ties of fraternity between Turkey and Israel.

“With the most recent assault in international waters of unarmed ships which were carrying only humanitarian aid to Gaza, Israel has shown the entire world that it will not allow any peaceful attempt in the region and will not respect human rights. The attack cannot be approved or backed by any nation in the world. World leaders do not have the luxury to hide themselves behind mere statements. It is high time the world said ‘stop’ to the perpetrators of the bloody assault,” the MÜSİAD statement read and called on the United Nations and the international community to review their approach to Israel.

A similar statement came from Confederation of Turkish Real Trade Unions (Hak-İş) President Salim Uslu, who said Israel committed a crime against humanity by attacking civilians on a ship carrying humanitarian aid to people in need. He also called on the international community to take action against Israeli violence.

“Israel insists on not ending its terror and attacks in the Middle East. It has turned into a traumatic actor in the region. It attacks civilians, children or women included. Israel has caused the shame of the century to humanity and continues to do so. … The United Nations, NATO, the European Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference [OIC] and the Arab League should take action and say ‘stop’ to [Israel’s] dirty game,” the statement went on to say.

A doctors’ organization known as Yeryüzü Doktorları (Doctors on Earth) also condemned the killings of the activists on the aid flotilla, saying humanitarian aid flowing to people in need should not be blocked, regardless of their religion, language or ethnicity. “The attack on the Freedom Flotilla came in violation of international law and universal humanitarian values. Yeryüzü Doktorları strongly condemns the Israeli assault on the aid ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza,” read the statement.

Related stories:

May 31, 2010: Press Release- Rights org condemns “hideous” attack on Freedom Flotilla

May 31, 2010: Press Release- Gazans unite in call for solidarity with Freedom Flotilla

May 31, 2010: Brave Israeli Commandos Slaughter Aid Activists at Sea by Stephen Lendman

May 31, 2010: Free Gaza- Civilians Under Attack by Israel

May 31, 2010: Facing armed attack in international waters by Paul Woodward

  1. June 1, 2010 at 5:55 am

    I have expected that to happen. It is their natural behaviour. What do we expect from a state of criminals, soldiers and walls, and above all religious leaders who nothing but money launderer, human organ traffickers, and followers of a filthy book called the TALMUD; a book which takes precedence to the TORAH. Of course, it well-fit their criminal mentality.

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