Turkey dismisses Israel's terror claims over int'l aid activists

Turkish Foreign Minister said Turkey insisted on the establishment of an independent international committee to investigate the Israeli attack.

 Turkey dismisses Israel's terror claims over int'l aid activists

Turkish Foreign Minister said Sunday Israel's attack on aid ships last week constituted a crime and that Turkey insisted on the establishment of an independent international committee to investigate the Israeli act.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, "I was going to go to Washington, D.C. to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel. Even a date was set for the meeting. I changed my mind after Israeli forces raided the civilian ship on Monday. Thus, Israel destroyed another chance of negotiation."

In a tele-interview with the international news channel CNN, Davutoglu, who was in Jeddah to attend an executive board meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said, "there were a Nobel-laureate person, European parliamentarians and a number of journalists on board the ships. If someone claims that there was a terrorist among the passengers, let us know his/her name. In that case, we can launch an investigation. But if there was no terrorists and all those people on board the ships were civilians, Israel, then, must be responsible. We call on them to share information about any accusation against any of the passengers."

Asked whether Turkey and Israel were still allied, Davutoglu said, "it was Israel which changed its policies. When they changed policies from negotiations and peace to violence, we had to give a response."

"In fact, I was set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday about details of the indirect talks between Israel and Syria. I changed my mind after Israeli forces raided the civilian ship on Monday. Thus, Israel destroyed another chance of negotiation," he said.

"There have always been very good relations between Turkey and Israel. Turkey has been a safe haven for Jewish people. Turkey was one of the first countries recognizing the Israeli state. But, we have some problems with the existing Israeli administration and policies. We cannot tolerate a policy of tension," he said.

Israel refused on Sunday a proposal by U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon for an international investigation into its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship.

The U.N. chief had suggested establishing a panel that would be headed by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer and include representatives from Turkey, Israel and the United States, an Israeli official said earlier in Jerusalem.

"Aid activists not terrorists"


Davutoglu also rejected Israeli accusations on international aid activists on the Gaza ship.

Davutoglu said that Israel's rejection of an international committee indicated their guiltiness.

Apparently, the Israelis do not have the self-confidence to face the realities, Davutoglu said.

Davutoglu denied rumors that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan would be on board a new ship that would travel to Gaza.

What happened last week is not an issue between Turkey and Israel. The ship that was attacked by Israel carried civilians from 32 countries. As such, this issue is one between Israel and the international community and laws. We will work so that an independent international committee is formed to investigate last week's incident, Davutoglu
said.

Asked if Turkey would cut off all relations with Israel, Davutoglu said that this depended on Israel's reaction.

"Why did nine of our citizens got killed? No country has the right to touch our ship in international waters and kill our citizens. Therefore, we will work on this matter," Davutoglu said.

What happened last week is highly important. For the first time in the history of the Republic of Turkey, our citizens were targeted and attacked in a planned manner. As a member of NATO, we had tough days with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. However, the Soviet Union never killed our citizens, Davutoglu said.

The representatives of non-governmental organizations were not terrorists. We will bring up this issue at all international platforms, Davutoglu also said.

Leaked post-mortem results showed that the activists were killed by a hail of 9mm bullets, many fired at close range. Five of the nine were shot in the head.

The Turkish attorney general’s office said it was collecting witness statements.

Leaked reports from the post-mortem examinations of the nine dead Turkish activists, one of whom also held a US passport, showed the men had been shot a total of 30 times, and five of them were killed by gunshot wounds to the head.

One 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. Fulkan Dogan, 19, the holder of a US passport, was shot five times, all from a range of less than 45cm.

Agencies

Last Mod: 07 Haziran 2010, 16:46
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