Thousands of people rallied in Istanbul Thursday to remember the nine victims of a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla on this date two years ago.
The crowd gathered in iconic Taksim Square under the banner of the pro-Islamic Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), one of the organizers of the flotilla that tried to break an Israeli sea blockade of the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory.
The demonstrators, many of them women, chanted slogans and waved banners against Israel, once a strong regional ally of Turkey, and asked that the perpetrators of the raid be held accountable.
Protesters carrying coffin in memory of Syrian victims (Photo: AFP)
The demonstrators also carried signs against Syrian President Bashar Assad and stepped on photos of him. Some were also seen carrying a coffin which read "50 children were slaughtered with knives in Houla."
An Arab-Israeli delegation is taking part in the events marking two years since the flotilla raid. Among the delegation's members is Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement's northern branch.
Assad in a noose (Photo: AFP)
The rally came days after an Istanbul court approved an indictment against four Israeli commanders, with prosecutors demanding multiple life sentences for their alleged role in the deadly flotilla raid.
Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, the largest ship of the flotilla, on May 31, 2010, leaving nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.
The raid triggered a crisis between Israel and Turkey and resulted in a dramatic downgrade in diplomatic relations and the expelling of the Israeli ambassador from Turkey. Military ties were also cut.
The 144-page indictment called for nine life sentences to be given to each of the four commanders, including Israel's former chief of the general staff Gabi Ashkenazi.