Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers, including an officer, face indictments for looting a Gaza-bound Turkish vessel, part of a six-ship aid flotilla, which was raided by Israeli naval commandos on May 31, Israeli media reported on Thursday.
The IDF Military Prosecution was expected to file charges on Thursday against a soldier who admitted to stealing a laptop computer, two cameras and a compass belonging to the passengers of the vessel, the Mavi Marmara, which is owned by a Turkish charity and was seized by Israeli commandos, Ynetnews, an online English-language Israeli news portal, reported.
The report said indictments are expected to be filed against two other suspects in the coming days, while it noted that one of the suspects is an officer. An army official was quoted as calling the affair “one of the most embarrassing the IDF has known in recent years.”
According to Ynetnews, the soldiers involved are expected to be charged with looting, theft, dealing in stolen property and behavior unbefitting of a soldier. The May 31 attack by Israeli security forces on the Gaza humanitarian aid convoy took place in international waters and ended with the killing of eight Turkish and one Turkish-American civilians on board the Mavi Marmara. Turkey has demanded an apology from Israel, while Israel says the soldiers fired on activists to defend themselves.
Items were first reported missing by officials by the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH), the Turkish charity that owns the Mavi Marmara, last month during an inspection of the seized ships by Turkish authorities. Israel allowed the ships to sail back to Turkey earlier last month. Following an inspection of the ships at Turkey’s İskenderun port, the İHH said some laptops, cameras and memory cards belonging to passengers or the İHH were missing. Passengers in June also complained that Israeli officers had used their seized credit cards.
“The soldiers’ behavior was disgraceful, and they should be brought to justice,” an IDF official was quoted as saying by Ynetnews.
Turkey presents UN with national report on flotilla raid
Turkey’s national commission responsible for investigating Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla has completed its report and has presented it to the United Nations, diplomatic sources said on Thursday.
After the UN secretary-general established an inquiry of the deadly May 31 raid, Turkey announced in mid-August that a National Investigation and Examination Commission had been established by the Prime Ministry for the purpose of investigating said attack and the treatment to which persons in the convoy had been exposed to in order to prepare a report to be presented to the UN panel of inquiry.
Ambassador Mithat Rende, the contact point for the commission, handed over the final report to UN officials at the international organization’s New York City headquarters on Wednesday, diplomatic sources told Today’s Zaman on Thursday.
The same diplomatic sources declined to elaborate on the content of the report, only noting that it was “a highly detailed report.” The account was prepared under the coordination of the Prime Ministry with the participation of bureaucrats from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of the Interior and the Undersecretariat for Maritime Affairs. Turkey’s efforts and initiatives to address the issue of the May 31 raid will continue, the sources stressed.