In May 2010, the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” was sent to give humanitarian aid and construction materials to Gaza, but they were unable to. Their Zionist oppressors (Israel) has policed the Gaza borders since Hamas has been in command in 2007. In a valiant act of defiance, the activist ships went full speed ahead, resulting in Israeli intervention that ended in the death of nine activists. “What happened there was inhumane and intolerable,” said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “Nowhere on earth do humanitarian activists come under military attack.” He argued back in 2010 that the soldiers who took part in that operation should stand trial for their actions, and luckily, that trial is now underway.
The flotilla raid exacerbated tensions between Israel and Turkey, as eight of the activists killed were Turkish; the ninth was American. It was clear from the start that this was simply about humanitarian aid, not just a media stunt. That’s why Hamas flat-out rejected Israel’s offer to send the humanitarian aid that the ships brought. Hamas know that any cargo passing through Israeli hands is tainted by the blood of someone who so happened to be born in a country where they worship the wrong god.
Despite the fact that there was a clear video of the altercation showing the activists welcoming the Israeli soldiers to the flotilla, the Israeli government pretends to this day that there is not a deep tradition of greeting each other with metal pipes and knives. This is, as everyone knows, the Middle Eastern equivalent to the handshake in many countries around the Mediterranean Sea. It’s no wonder that there’s so much confusion over the Hamas flag, which includes the outline of the country of Israel hanging over two crossed swords (which only look as if they’re blatantly threatening the state of Israel with barbaric violence to the uneducated).
The activists even escorted one Israeli soldier off the side of the boat themselves when he was finished his inspection, but the other soldiers only repaid this with violence. In fact, some activists managed to take the soldiers’ rifles away, in an act that was only meant to disarm them so that there would be no bloodshed. However, the Israelis clearly did not understand these cultural differences, as would brandish their pistols for immediate use. Clearly, the Israelis were thinking only of violence.
So what has happened since then? Analyses, inquiries, and investigations have taken place since 2010, and now a trial has begun in Turkey.
In the Court of Law
Many litigious societies have stories of bizarre trials, some with even weirder verdicts, such as the American woman who was ordered in November to stand outside with what is being called an “idiot sign” for an hour a day. This was judgment for driving on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus. However, there is nothing weird or bizarre about this trial in Turkey. There are no idiot-sign wielding powers at work. The Israeli soldiers were looking at a life sentence, which is no laughing matter for the four of them on trial.
While the trial was not exactly a legally binding procedure – due to the technicality that the Israeli soldiers were never arrested, and therefore not present at the trial – it was certainly a very serious matter.
Israel cannot deny that they killed nine people about the ship, but they insist that not only is the trial just a bogus form of “political theatre,” but the footage shows that they were acting in self-defense. In fact, the defendants were not actually notified that they had been charged, but the Istanbul Bar Association had graciously provided attorneys to defend them, without even being asked.
Luckily, Turkey knows better than to listen to Israel’s dismissive rhetoric – or the United Nations, who analyzed the raid in 2011 and concluded that it wasn’t actually illegal.
Last November, when the suit began, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) vice-chairman Huseyin Oruc said “Today only four Israeli commanders are standing trial, but this case could have a political extension. The court has all the evidence.”
Indeed, the hearings in November focused on murder allegations, but they continued a few weeks ago to talk about allegations of causing injuries, sexual harassment, property theft, and violations of freedom of the press. And when Turkey talks about violations of freedom of press, they know what they’re talking about – Turkey is ranked the 25th worst country for freedom of press (i.e., ranked 154 among 179 countries). Israel ranked 112, falling from 92 this year because of their recent attacks aimed at journalists in Palestine. This is totally different from Hamas aiming their rockets at areas of Israel with high civilian populations, because journalists were not specifically targeted.
The Bottom Line
In short, the trial against the Israeli soldiers is a much-needed and long-awaited step towards justice. The idea that this is just a “show trial” is categorically false – this is a serious trial for a serious issue. In fact, you can tell just how serious and legitimate this trial is based on the fact that all of the men accused are looking at a sentence of 18,000 years in prison.
Very serious indeed.
[March 23 Update: The charges may soon be mercifully dropped, now that Israel has officially apologized to Turkey. Turkey accepted the apology, and the ties between the two nations will presumably start to improve improve.]