Middle East

Turkey drops case against Israeli officers in Gaza flotilla killings

Lawyers tear into pieces pictures of accused ex-Israeli army officers as families (back) hold pictures of victims on 9 December 2016 outside the Istanbul courthouse as Turkish court is expected to rule in the case of Israelis charged in absentia over a deadly commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship in 2010. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Lawyers for the victims families tore pictures of the accused into pieces as a Turkish court drops the case

A Turkish court has dropped a case against four Israeli military officials charged over a deadly raid on a ship in an aid flotilla bound for Gaza in 2010.

Arrest warrants for the four were also dropped, a lawyer for the victims said.

Ten Turkish activists lost their lives as a result of the raid, in which Israeli commandos stormed the lead ship in the convoy to Gaza.

Dropping the charges was a key part of a deal agreed between Israel and Turkey this June to normalise bilateral ties.

Under a deal reached this year, Israel agreed to pay $20m (£15.9) in compensation to the victims of the raid. In return, Israeli nationals would not be held criminally or financially liable for the incident.

The officials, including former military chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, went on trial in absentia in 2012.

The deal allowed Turkey and Israel to restore normal relations in June, mending a six-year rift that followed the flotilla incident.

It also allows Turkey to send aid to Gaza and carry out infrastructure projects in the Palestinian territory.

Turkey was once Israel's closest ally in the region, and the two countries share many strategic interests.

The Turkish-owned ship Mavi Marmara was part of a flotilla attempting to breach an Israeli blockade of Gaza when it was intercepted by Israeli commandos on 31 May 2010.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Mavi Marmara was the lead ship in a six-vessel convoy heading for Gaza

Ten pro-Palestinian Turkish activists, one of them a dual American citizen, were killed and dozens wounded as clashes broke out after the commandos boarded the ship, descending on ropes from helicopters.

The two sides had blamed each other for the violence.

A UN inquiry was unable to determine at exactly which point the commandos used live rounds.

Correction 10 December 2016: This article mistakenly said the Mavi Mamara was an aid ship. It was a passenger ship that was part of an aid flotilla.

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