An Istanbul court holds a show trial of Israelis accused of responsibility for the deaths of nine Turkish operatives aboard the Mavi Marmara.

‘’Israel on trial,’’ an IHH poster marking the beginning of the trial in Istanbul, November 6 (IHH website, November 6, 2012).

‘’Israel on trial,’’ an IHH poster marking the beginning of the trial in Istanbul, November 6 (IHH website, November 6, 2012).

Signs equating Nazism with Zionism at a demonstration in front of the court house in Istanbul.

Signs equating Nazism with Zionism at a demonstration in front of the court house in Istanbul.

Front page of the Turkish newspaper Sabah, owned by Erdogan's son-in-law, on the day the trial opened: ‘’The Israelis are not soldiers, they are monsters’’ (Sabah, November 6, 2012).

Front page of the Turkish newspaper Sabah, owned by Erdogan's son-in-law, on the day the trial opened: ‘’The Israelis are not soldiers, they are monsters’’ (Sabah, November 6, 2012).

IHH leader Bülent Yildirim at the demonstration in front of the courthouse in Istanbul (IHH website, November 6, 2012).

IHH leader Bülent Yildirim at the demonstration in front of the courthouse in Istanbul (IHH website, November 6, 2012).

Pictures of the ‘’wanted’’ Israelis and a swastika (The PIJ's PalToday website, November 6, 2012).

Pictures of the ‘’wanted’’ Israelis and a swastika (The PIJ's PalToday website, November 6, 2012).

Overview

1.On November 6, 2012, a hearing began in the Istanbul Court for Serious Crimes in the case of four senior IDF officers, who will be tried in absentia. According to the prosecution, they are charged with responsibility for the deaths of nine Turkish shaheeds (martyrs for the sake of Allah) aboard the Mavi Marmarain May 2010.[1] In our assessment, the proceedings are a show trial in which Israel is not represented and which presents only one side of the events, depicted with bias and sometimes untruthfully.

2. The four Israelis on trial are former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former head of military intelligence Amos Yadlin, former commander of the Israeli Navy Eliezer Marom, and Air Force Commander Avishai Levy. The prosecution is asking for nine consecutive life sentences for each. An investigation of General Tal Russo was also initiated; he is accused of planning and carrying out the attack on the Mavi Marmara(IHH website, November 6, 2012). The indictment includes charges such as "incitement to commit murder through torture" and "incitement to do harm with live weapons." After three days the deliberations were postponed to February 21, 2013, apparently because of legal flaws (See Appendix II).

3. The IHH, which organized the Mavi Marmaraflotilla and whose operatives participated in the violent confrontation with the IDF, exploited the opening day of the trail for a vicious anti-Israel hate campaign (which the Turkish administration did nothing to prevent). On the morning the trial opened a mass demonstration, sponsored by the IHH,was held in front of the courthouse. The demonstrators waved Turkish, Palestinian and IHH flags. There were large pictures of the accused Israelis and anti-Israel signs, including some comparing Israel ("Zionism") to Hitler and Nazi Germany. The demonstrators shouted anti-Israel slogans such as "Death to Israel," "Independence for Palestine," and "Jihad." There was also a display of pictures taken aboard the Mavi Marmara. The IHH was careful to invite representatives of the international media to cover the demonstration.

4. Beyond vilifying Israel, the IHH seeks to exploit the results of the trial in its lawfare campaign against Israel. IHH leader Bülent Yildirimsaid that in the wake of the trial it would be difficult for senior Israelis and even soldiers who participated in the event to travel abroad. He added that he expected warrants to be issued for the arrest of those "guilty of premeditated murder." A similar statement was made on the eve of the trial by Muhammad Kaya, the IHH representative in the Gaza Strip. Both statements were made with total disregard for the Palmer Commission appointed by the UN Secretary General which, with the participation of the Turkish government, investigated the events of the flotilla.


5. The Palmer Commission determined that "Israeli Defense Forces personnel faced significant, organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers when they boarded the Mavi Marmara requiring them to use force for their own protection."[2] The Commission also determined that "the fundamental principle of the freedom of navigation on the high seas is subject to only certain limited exceptions under international law. Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law (ITIC emphasis)."[3]

Front page of the Turkish newspaper Sabah, owned by Erdogan's son-in-law, on the day the trial opened: ‘’The Israelis are not soldiers, they are monsters’’ (Sabah, November 6, 2012).
Front page of the Turkish newspaper Sabah, owned by Erdogan's son-in-law, on the day the trial opened: "The Israelis are not soldiers, they are monsters" (Sabah, November 6, 2012).

6. The opening day of the trial was covered by the Turkish press and accompanied by libelous remarks directed against Israel. Nevertheless, there was also criticism of both the trial and the anti-Israel incitement accompanying it, primarily by the opposition:

1) Opposition journalist Efkan Bulaç, who writes for the News of the Country website, said that Turkey did not have the authority to judge an event in which a ship flying a foreign flag was involved, and that trying defendants in absentia was only a show. He added that the trial was meaningless because not all the documents had been assembled, the defendants had not yet received formal summonses, and the process by which the defense lawyers had been chosen by the bar associationwas unlawful and they therefore could not defend the defendants (Ulkedehaber website, November 7, 2012).

2) Emin Çölaşan, journalist and editor of the opposition paper Sözcü, wrote that the Turkish government would never allow a ship bringing aid to the Kurds to approach one of its ports and would call it an illegal action. He said the government would also not hesitate to use the military force against it. He claimed that the government of Turkey should be brought to trial for having supported and encouraged the Mavi Marmara in the face of warnings from Israel, and for having sent nine men "to their deaths"(Ilk-kurusum.com website, November 8, 2012).

Nature of the IHH

7. The IHH, which is waging a hate campaign against Israel and hounding senior Israelis, is a radical Turkish jihadist Islamic organization, anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-Semitic. The organization, which works hand in glove with the Turkish administration, is an important component in the international coalition waging the campaign to delegitimize Israel and participates in its activities by collaborating with anti-Israeli organizations in the West and with organizations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. IHH operatives played a main role events aboard the Mavi Marmara, which ended with a violent confrontation on May 31, 2010. Before that IHH activists had joined a convoy sent to the Gaza Strip at the end of 2009 whose participants engaged in a violent confrontation with the Egyptian security forces.

8. The IHH played a central role in the flotilla by planning it, purchasing three ships (including the Mavi Marmara), making Turkey's governmental capabilities available to the coalition which sent the flotilla and planning the violent confrontation with the IDF without the knowledge of the coalition's other members. IHH operatives played a main role in the violence aboard the ship which ended with the deaths of nine Turkish operatives, nine wounded IDF soldiers and dozens of wounded passengers[4] (See Appendix III).

Appendices

9. This document has three appendices:

1) The IHH's involvement in the trial in Istanbul.

2) The conduct of the trial

3) IHH support for Hamas and its place in confronting the IDF aboard the Mavi Marmara.

[1] The nine Turkish citizens killed aboard the Mavi Marmara were not innocent civilians, but rather operatives belonging to the IHH and other radical Islamist organizations.