Latest update: December 29th, 2013
On Wednesday, Dec. 25, a Turkish court rejected a claim for compensation from the state of Israel by the relatives of a man who died during the battle between Israeli soldiers and anti-Israel protesters who were attempting to breach the internationally-recognized legal blockade of Gaza.
The family of Furkan Doğan, one of nine who died aboard the ship during the raid by Israeli soldiers in May, 2010, was seeking four million Turkish Liras in compensation from Israel, according to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News.
The basis for denying the claim, the judge wrote, is that Israel, a sovereign nation, cannot be tried in Turkish courts. Most western countries have laws known as “sovereign immunity,” which means sovereign nations and their representatives cannot be sued in courts outside of their own jurisdiction. An example of that on a very local level is that ambassadors from other nations cannot be tried for traffic or other criminal infractions in U.S. courts.
The ruling comes at a time when Israel and Turkey are engaged in discussing compensation Israel voluntarily agreed to pay – with strong “guidance” from the United States government – to the Turkish families of those who died.
The head of the local IHH, the organization behind the anti-Israel protesters attempted breach of Israel’s legal blockade, said that the plaintiffs will appeal the ruling.
In May, 2010, several organized anti-Israel groups boarded several boats, forming a flotilla, in an attempt to breach Israel’s blockade of Gaza. When other sea vessels had attempted to breach the blockade, the Israeli navy gave repeated warnings and was able to persuade sailors to dock at an Israeli gate near Gaza. Any humanitarian goods carried by the seafaring protesters were then brought on land, through the checkpoints, and distributed in Gaza.
The passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara refused to turn back and in order to prevent the blockade from being breached, Israeli soldiers were dropped down a rope onto the deck of the boat, where they were beaten.
If a legal blockade is breached even once, it can no longer be enforced.
A September 2011 UN report stated that Israeli soldiers responded with weapons only after those soldiers who were descending onto the sip were met with an “extreme level of violence” from the protesters on the ship.
“The soldiers from the first helicopter were met with an extreme level of violence from a group of passengers on the vessel. They were shot at and attacked with clubs, iron rods, slingshots and knives,” according to the report, which followed Israel’s own investigation.
It said the Israeli soldiers resorted to lethal weapons “in response to the violent resistance faced.”
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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