by Stephen Lendman
Turkey and Israel reconciled. Headlines announced it. They reflect grand betrayal. It's duplicitous. It's too little, too late. More on that below.
Israel bears full responsibility. Officials ordering nine cold-blooded murders remain unaccountable. Corpses won't be reborn. Family survivors aren't assuaged. They deserve better. They were promised justice. They're denied it.
On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos interdicted Freedom Flotilla vessels. They did so lawlessly. They were in international waters. They tried bringing humanitarian aid to besieged Gazans.
Nine Turkish nationals were slaughtered. They were marked for death. They were assassinated in cold blood. Dozens more were wounded.
They were aboard the Mavi Marmara mother ship. Everyone on board was arrested. They were treated harshly in detention. Israel's unapologetic. Words claiming otherwise ring hollow.
Israel's assault was premeditated. It was well-planned. Unarmed, nonviolent activists were attacked. They tried breaking Israel's lawless blockade. High crimes followed.
A September 2010 UN Human Rights Council (HRC) fact-finding mission found Israel entirely culpable. It called its attack brutal and disproportionate.
Eye witness testimonies, forensic evidence, video footage, and other evidence documented it.
HRC "concluded that a series of violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, were committed by the Israeli forces during the interception of the flotilla and during the detention of passengers in Israel prior to deportation."
"The preponderance of evidence from impeccable sources is far too overwhelming to come to a contrary opinion."
HRC called Israel's attack "piracy, (an) act of aggression, (a) brutal massacre, (an) act of terrorism, (a) war crime, (a) crime against humanity - unprovoked, unwarranted, atrocious, (and) brutal."
It called activists onboard "peaceful, innocent, noble, unarmed, (and) defenseless."
Nine died doing what's right. Irrefutable evidence proved it. At the time, Netanyahu claimed otherwise. He lied. He called flotilla activists terrorists.
He accused them of precipitating violence. Commandos had a right to defend themselves, he said. Blaming victims is official Israeli policy.
Netanyahu cited "unprecedented threats of war and terrorism."
It's essential to "defend (Israeli) security and protect its democratic values," he said.
He justified military action. He called it "a last resort, and the instructions were to conduct it with as little friction as possible."
Israeli commandos "conducted themselves in accordance with international law," he added.
They "displayed rare courage in fulfilling their mission and in defending themselves against a real threat to their lives. I have full confidence in our soldiers, and the State of Israel is proud of them."
Turkey put four senior IDF commanders on trial. They did so in absentia.
Charges included voluntary manslaughter, attempted voluntary manslaughter, intentional injury, incitement to assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, abduction or confiscation of maritime vessels, property damage, false arrest, and mistreatment of prisoners.
Hundreds of complainants testified. What they said mattered. Conclusions from an internal Turkish investigation accused Israel of "banditry," "piracy," and "state-sponsored terrorism."
Clear evidence proved it. It doesn't matter. Israel remains unaccountable. Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reconciled. All's forgiven.
They spoke for the first time since 2011. They let bygones be bygones. They agreed to normalize relations.
Erdogan cancelled legal proceedings. Cold-blooded killers are absolved. They're free to kill again. Israeli commanders can order targeted assassinations freely. It didn't have to be this way. Smart money said expect it.
Obama pressured both men to reconcile. Netanyahu apologized his way. He expressed regret. He said Israel's investigation revealed operational errors. An official statement said they "led to loss of life."
Israeli murders are well planned. They're premeditated. They're not accidental. Israeli commandos had photos of targeted victims. They singled them out on board.
They killed them at point blank range. Compensating family survivors doesn't wash. It won't return loved ones. Immunity from punishment is unconscionable.
Netanyahu "expressed regret for the deterioration in the relations between the two countries." He pledged to settle differences. He called "the tragic consequences of the Mavi Marmara unintentional."
Israel "regrets any injury or loss of life," he said. He lied. He's a serial liar. He targets Palestinians ruthlessly. He spurns their rights. He orders Gazan humanitarian missions attacked.
Obama released an official statement, saying:
"The United States deeply values our close partnerships with both Turkey and Israel, and we attach great importance to the restoration of positive relations between them in order to advance regional peace and security."
"I am hopeful that today's exchange between the two leaders will enable them to engage in deeper cooperation on this and a range of other challenges and opportunities."
For months, Israeli and Turkish diplomats tried resolving differences. Ways discussed fell short. During a recent UN conference, Erdogan called Zionism a "crime against humanity." He compared it to fascism.
Relations deteriorated earlier. Oslo facilitated them. Underlying tensions persisted. Peace proved illusive. Israel precipitated the second Intifada.
At the time, then Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit criticized Israel harshly. The 2003 Iraq war caused friction. Both countries were positioned on opposite sides.
Israel wanted a regional rival eliminated. Turkey wanted status quo relations. It's against a de facto Kurdistan on its borders. It's got what it tried to prevent.
Israel's 2006 Lebanon war further heightened tensions. So did Cast Lead. Erdogan accused Israel of war crimes. He said illegal weapons were used.
He condemned Israel's lawless Lebanese overflights. They happen regularly. Sometimes they're multiple times daily. Erdogan called them "unacceptable action(s) threaten(ing) global peace."
He denounced regular Gaza attacks and incursions. He asked if Israel favors war or peace. They attack Palestinians disproportionately. They spurn UN resolutions. They do so with impunity.
"We can in no way approve of such an attitude," he said.
At the 2009 World Economic Forum, he and Shimon Peres clashed. After condemning Cast Lead, he stormed off the platform.
Turkish/Israeli relations remained disrupted. Ongoing tensions persisted. Joint military exercises were cancelled.
Erdogan wants Gaza's siege ended. He calls Hamas Palestine's legitimate government. He called Netanyahu Israel's worst leader ever. He said discredited foreign minister Avivdor Lieberman is Israel's "greatest problem."
All's forgiven. One phone call did it. Heavy pressure preceded it. Perhaps another crisis awaits.
Turkey wants Middle East security. Israel threatens it. Both countries vie for regional dominance. At the same time, they cooperate on military, intelligence and other strategic interests.
Turkey's a NATO member. Israel has partner status. It's short of full integration. Doing so obliges other members to participate in Israel's wars.
They're premeditated. They're lawless. They're aggressive.
Netanyahu's office said normalizing Israeli/Turkish relations "can be very, very important for the future, regarding what happens with Syria, but not just what happens" there.
Tzipi Livni is Israel's new Justice Minister. She praised "restoration of a first-rate strategic dialogue." It forges a "camp of more moderate elements," she added. She said doing so helps confront Syria and Iran more effectively.
US pressure got Israel and Turkey to bend. Normalizing relations follows. It'll take time. Differences remain. Years of friction aren't overcome quickly.
Both countries have common interests. Netanyahu and Erdogan agreed. They matter most. What's ahead remains to be seen. Best guess is continued regional conflict. It rages out-of-control with no end.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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