Istanbul — Turkey puts four former Israeli military commanders, including the head of the army, on trial in absentia this week for the 2010 killing of nine Turks on a Gaza-bound aid ship.
Relations between the Jewish state and what was once its only Muslim ally, crumbled after Israeli marines stormed the Mavi Marmara aid ship in May 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Palestinian-run Gaza Strip and killed nine Turks in clashes with activists on board.
The rift has continued despite U.S. efforts to encourage a rapprochement between the two regional powers whose cooperation it needs to address changes sweeping the Middle East.
Israel and NATO member Turkey, which both border Syria, once shared intelligence information and conducted joint military exercises, cooperation which has since been cancelled.
A Turkish state prosecutor is seek multiple life sentences for the now retired Israeli officers over their involvement in the nine killings and the wounding of more than 50 others.
The indictment names Israel’s former Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former Navy Commander Eliezer Marom, former Air Force Commander Amos Yadlin and former head of Air Force intelligence Avishay Levi, seeking prison sentences of more than 18,000 years for each of them.
Among the charges listed in the 144-page indictment are “inciting murder through cruelty or torture” and “inciting injury with firearms”.
A total of 490 people aboard the ship during the raid, including activists and journalists, are expected to give evidence. Normally barred from courtrooms, the trial will be officially recorded by television cameras, although proceedings are not expected to be broadcast.