World Bulletin / News Desk
Israel has secretly made contact with the families of victims of the Mavi Marmara attack, bypassing the Turkish government by conveying an apology and offering compensation to victims’ families in return for withdrawal of the case, the Habertürk daily has reported.
According to the report, the Israeli government offered families of the Mavi Marmara victims $6 million in return for the withdrawal of their case, which seeks an apology from Israel for the incident and compensation for the victims’ families.
Israeli forces killed eight Turks and a 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish ethnicity onboard the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara, part of a flotilla of ships carrying aid, in international waters on May 31, 2010. Both the Turkish government and population were enraged by the deadly operation. Turkey has demanded an official apology, compensation for the victims’ families and an end to the Gaza blockade. Israel has refused to apologize for the attack, claiming such a request is an insult to its national pride and that its soldiers acted in self-defense, and has moreover declined to pay compensation to the families. Accordingly, Turkey has downgraded relations with Israel, suspending military agreements and asking senior Israeli diplomats to leave Turkish territory.
Ramazan Arıtürk, the lawyer representing Ahmet Doğan, father of 19-year-old victim Furkan Doğan, told Reuters that the Israeli government had made a proposal to him through an intermediary foreign ambassador in Ankara just over one month ago.
He said the money would have been paid to a Jewish foundation in Turkey for distribution, and been followed by a statement of "regret" for the raid by the Israeli government.
"I told the ambassador I did not think the offer was appropriate or moral and also discussed the issue with the victims and their friends and they also stated that they could not accept this," Arıtürk said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry agreed with his decision, saying Israel should have contacted it directly, he said.
Ariturk declined to disclose the nationality of the ambassador or reveal the name of the Jewish foundation to which the payment would have been made.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry could not be reached for immediate comment, while Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, declined to comment.
"As the Israeli government we want to deliver our apology to the victims’ families, and you withdraw your case in the national and international courts.”
However, Arıtürk told the envoy his client Doğan rejected the Israeli offer as unethical behavior, adding, “We are not accepting such an offer that bypasses the Republic of Turkey.” He stated that they informed Turkey’s Foreign Ministry about the offer and subsequent refusal. “This is a crime committed against humanity. We waited for the investigations to be completed in Turkey in order to start filing the claim,” said Arıtürk.
Speaking to TRT Haber, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said he had met with Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin about indictments prepared by a Turkish prosecutor, yet to be approved by the Turkish judiciary, concerning the attack on the Mavi Marmara, the investigations into which are already complete. Commenting on the legal process Davutoğlu remarked: “Turkey is a state of law and if there is any attack against Turkish citizens in international waters, if there is death and injury as the result of an incident, Turkey as a state of law has every right to pursue appropriate measures.”Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Mayıs 2012, 17:40