Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90
Former Chief of the Israeli Supreme Court, Jacob Turkel poses for a portrait at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on July 23, 2014.

Former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel died at the age of 88.

“The President of the Supreme Court, Judge Esther Hayut, presidents and judges of the Supreme Court in the past and present, the director of the courts and all the judges of Israel bow their heads and participate in the heavy mourning of the family,” the court announced on Monday.


Turkel was born in 1935 in Tel Aviv to Austrian immigrants. He graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s law school in 1960.

He served as a judge in various courts from 1967-1995, including a two-year stint as an acting Supreme Court Justice.

Turkel became a full Supreme Court justice in 1995, serving on that court until 2005.

In 2010, Turkel was tapped to lead a special independent commission of inquiry, referred to as the Turkel Commission, into the events of the Mavi Marmara incident.

In that incident, the Israeli Navy intercepted a Turkish-organized flotilla of ships trying to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Turks armed with knives, crowbars, axes aboard the Mavi Marmara fought with the Israeli naval commandos who were not expecting resistance. During the melee, nine Turks were killed and 10 Israeli soldiers were injured.

The Turkel Commission concluded that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was lawful, that the Israeli decision to intercept the flotilla was consistent with international norms and that the navy’s use of force were “legal pursuant to the rules of international law.”

From 2010-2018, Turkel served on a committee tasked with vetting people appointed to senior government positions.

Turkel was married for 65 years, until his wife, Miriam, died in 2018. He is survived by two daughters.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

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