MENARA Future Notes, nº. 3
After six years of détente, on June 2016 Israel and Turkey finally reached a deal to normalize diplomatic relations and signed a reconciliation agreement. Israel-Turkey relations had already been broken after Israel’s offensive in Gaza between December 2008 and January 2009. Turkey voiced strong disapproval of this attack, which killed more than a thousand civilians. When, at the 2009 Davos Summit, Turkey’s then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Israeli President Simon Peres sat on the same panel, Erdoğan criticized Peres severely for his country’s offensive in Gaza, accusing Israel of conducting “state terrorism” and walked out of the panel. But diplomatic relations were still in place between the two countries until the Mavi Marmara flotilla crisis of May 2010.
The Mavi Marmara was a humanitarian aid vessel that aimed to break the sea blockade on Gaza. While it held both Turkish and non-Turkish activists, the initiative was organized by a Turkish humanitarian aid organization (İHH, İnsani Yardım Vakfı) and the vessel carried the Turkish flag. Israel did not allow the vessel to reach Gaza’s port and İHH refused to dock in the Ashdod port, consequently, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) raided the flotilla, killing nine people of Turkish origin and one American Turkish citizen.