Turkey to Refer Israel's Blockade of Gaza Strip to The Hague

Turkish FM says Ankara intends to appeal International Court of Justice as soon as next week, following its rejection of the UN Gaza flotilla report, which stated that the blockade on the coastal enclave was legal.

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Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Turkey intends to appeal the International Court of Justice in The Hague as soon as next week in order to probe the legality of Israel's naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Saturday, following Turkey's rejection of a United Nations report on Israel's 2010 raid of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

The already strained diplomatic ties between Israel and Turkey took a dramatic turn for the worse on Friday, when Turkey announced the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador in the wake of Israel's continued refusal to apologize for the IDF raid which resulted in the death of nine Turkish nationals.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Credit: Archive

Turkey also announced its rejection of the Palmer omission report's finding according to which Israel's blockade of the coastal enclave was legal, with Davutoglu saying that Turkey could not "accept the blockade on Gaza."

"We cannot say that the blockade aligns with international law," he said, adding that the stance taken by the Palmer Commission Report was the author's "personal opinion, one which does not correspond with Turkey's position."

Speaking in an interview with Turkish station TRT on Saturday, Davutoglu said that Ankara was preparing to appeal the international court in The Hague, reiterating the official Turkish position which rejects the finds of the Palmer Commission report.

He added that Ankara was planning to initiate the Hague appeal as soon as next week, saying: "We are bound by the International Court of Justice. We say that the ICJ decides."

The Turkish FM also indicated that the flotilla raid was the first time Turkish civilians had been killed by a foreign army, adding: "We cannot remain silent in the face of that."

"If Israel persists with its current position, the Arab spring will give rise to a strong Israel opposition as well as the debate on the authoritarian regimes," he said.

The Turkish FM's announcement came after Turkish officials told the Hurriyet Daily News that Ankara was also planning to take military action to enforce its interpretation of the blockade, saying that the Turkish navy will significantly strengthen its presence in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

"The eastern Mediterranean will no longer be a place where Israeli naval forces can freely exercise their bullying practices against civilian vessels," a Turkish official was quoted as saying.

As part of the plan, the Turkish navy will increase its patrols in the eastern Mediterranean and pursue "a more aggressive strategy."

According to the report, Turkish naval vessels will accompany civilian ships carrying aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Another goal of the plan is to ensure free navigation in the region between Cyprus and Israel. The region includes areas where Israel and Cyprus cooperate in drilling for oil and gas.

Additionally, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan instructed his foreign ministry to organize a trip for him to the Gaza Strip in the near future.

"We are looking for the best timing for the visit, a Turkish official was quoted as saying. Our primary purpose is to draw the worlds attention to what is going on in Gaza and to push the international community to end the unfair embargo imposed by Israel.



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