A Turkish court issued arrest warrants on Monday for four former top Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commanders, reports the Jerusalem Post. The arrest warrants were issued in connection with the May 2010 IDF raid on a blockade-running ship, the Mavi Marmara, in which nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists were killed after attacking IDF naval commandos.
The move came as a surprise after months of negotiations between Turkey and Israel appeared to be leading to reconciliation. The diplomatic crisis over the commando raid on the Turkish ship, which was provocatively violating Israel’s naval blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, has soured relations between Turkey and Israel.
The former Israeli commanders were being tried in absentia at the Istanbul 7th Court of Serious Crimes. A court decided to request that Interpol issue a Red Notice for the arrest of the Israeli commanders.
One of the commanders, former Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, in a text message to Reuters, shrugged off the court’s decision. “I won’t be visiting Turkey, just like I won’t be visiting Syria, Iran or North Korea,” he said.
The court originally charged the four in May 2012, but it was believed that the international lawsuits would be dropped as part of ongoing reconciliation efforts between Turkey and Israel.
Turkish prosecutors have asked that the four Israelis get life sentences for their roles in the raid.
Israel has dismissed the proceedings as a political show trial. An unnamed Israeli official told AFP that the court decision is a “ridiculous provocation.”
“If this is the message that the Turks want to send to Israel, it was perfectly well understood,” he said.
A former Israeli official, who had been involved in efforts to reach a compensation deal, said this latest Turkish move would make achieving an agreement more difficult.
Israel has appealed to Interpol, claiming that the ruling was “tainted by political motives” and therefore Interpol should not carry it out.