Trial of former Israeli Chief of Staff Gen. Gavriel Ashkenazi, as well as former Navy Vice Adm. Eliezer Marom, ex-military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin and former Air Force Brig.-Gen. Avishai Levi concerning an Israeli attack on Mavi Marmara humanitarian aid ship in the international waters in 2010, continued. The Israeli attack claimed the lives of nine peaceful activists while it injured dozens of others.
The defendants did not attend the 2nd hearing of the trial which was held at İstanbul 7th High Criminal Court. Some victims and complainants were in attendance at the hearing during which a lawyer, appointed by İstanbul Bar Association, represented the suspects. The trial continued with the testimonies of victims and complainants.
“Foreign victims did not attend the hearing because the courtroom was small”
Atty. Gülden Sönmez, head of IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation’s judicial commission and lawyer of some of the victims and complainants in the trial, made a statement in front of the courthouse as the trial began. She said some of the crew members of the ship were heard and the victims explained how the ship was pulled to the Ashdod Port by force, how they were faced with interventions with guns and what took place at the Israeli jail and airport.
She said the trial is being held at the courtroom of the İstanbul 7th High Criminal Court, which she said is too small for this trial. Sönmez also said the hearings of the trial should continue for more than one day.
“You know there are more than 700 victims. Some of them are abroad. Unfortunately, they cannot come here and testify to the court because the courtroom is too small and the hearing only lasts for one day,” she said, adding that the upcoming hearing of the trial should be held in a more appropriate courtroom.
Statements from the victims
Şahin İbrahim Güleryüz, one of the victims, who spoke to the press, explained what he lived through aboard the ship. “Even if no [satisfactory] ruling comes out of this trial, Israel will no longer act comfortably as it did before. This trial will at least lead to some pressure on Israel,” he said.
“This is not the issue of us, this is not even the issue of Palestine,” Güleryüz said, adding that as long as there are tyrants like Israel on earth, people are responsible for struggling against them.
Cameraman Abdullah Camioğlu, who was among the participants of the Humanitarian Aid Flotilla, said all of his personal belongings were seized after the attack and only two of his T-shirts, on which someone peed, were sent to him. Camioğlu said Israeli soldiers who took him to jail told him: “If you love Gazans so much, then accept them to your country. We could be friends. Don’t be enemies with us due to Gazans. Tell our greetings to Turkey.” He also added that all of his electronic devices were also seized by Israeli soldiers.
“Only two of my t-shirts on which someone peed were given to me,” he said.
İsmail Songur who lost his father Cengiz in the Mavi Marmara attack, said: “Mavi Marmara was definitely not a ship which set out to provide support to a terrorist organization or to change the political order there. Mavi Marmara’s goal was only to relieve people in Gaza who were suffering from Israeli blockade and tyranny. My father was on board that ship. Most important feature of the ship was the existence of ties of brotherhood. I saw my father receiving a heart massage 5-6 hours after the attack on TV. He had been injured. I was shocked to see him. In my final talk with him, I thought he would be arrested in the worst scenario, remain jailed for several months and then be released. But we see that Israel made plans for its attack days ago. It made plans for this as a terrorist organization. It prepared hospitals, WCs and interrogation rooms for the aftermath of its attack.”
Indicating that the trial against Israel is a first in the history, Songur said: “Now, the entire world and Europe in particular have seen that a massacre was carried out on Mavi Marmara. They saw the blockade imposed by Israel. As a matter of fact, this trial is the first in history because people used to think that it is never possible to try Israel. They used to think that Israel is even more powerful than the United States. But we know that Allah is more powerful than Israel and the United States. The trial has begun and the upcoming process is of crucial importance.”
“Israel should be aware of this now, this order cannot go on to exist through tyranny and bloodshed. This needs to come to an end. We don’t have any demands like an apology or compensation from Israel. We want the elimination of blockade in Gaza,” added Songur.
Hüseyin Çelebi, a witness in the case, said: “Israeli forces fired from zodiacs, submarines, frigates and helicopters. Four of our friends were martyred when fire was opened on the upper deck while 16 others were injured. When the Israeli soldiers found a card showing that I am a veteran of Cyprus Operation and a gun’s license on me, two soldiers were assigned to monitor me for 16 hours. Israeli soldiers jumped from the helicopter to the boats on the ship and fired from there by setting targets.”
The indictment, which was prepared by İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, seeks nine aggravated life sentences each for former Israeli Defense Forces Chief of General Staff Gen. Gavriel Ashkenazi, Naval Forces commander Vice Adm. Eliezer Marom, Israel's former military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin and former Air Force intelligence head Brig. Gen. Avishai Levy on charges of instigating premeditated murder, and up to 18,032 year-long jail sentence for masterminding damage to personal property, looting, torture, cutting of communication, depriving one of their freedom, injuring others and injuring others with the use of guns.
Trial adjourned to May 20-21
Lawyers in the Mavi Marmara trial who spoke to press in the evening hours of Thursday said the court decided to adjourn the trial to May 20-21.