A Turkish court has ordered the arrest of former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and three other IDF commanders that Turkey holds responsible for the Israeli Navy's raid of a 2010 Gaza-bound flotilla, Turkish newspaper Hürriyet Daily News reported on Monday.
The court has also asked for an Interpol Red Notice for the arrest of the then-top IDF brass - Ashkenazi, former Naval Forces commander Eliezer Marom, former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin and former Air Forces Intelligence head Avishai Levi.
The court pressed charges against the four army commanders in May 2012 for their alleged involvement in the raid of the Mavi Marmara, that left 10 Turkish citizens dead.
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They are being tried in absentia at the Istanbul 7th Court of Serious Crimes, and prosecutors have demanded life sentences for all four of them.
Turkey surprised at Israeli raidIn an interview with Hürriyet, Turkey's ambassador to Israel at the time said Ankara was surprised by the way the IDF chose to stop the flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip.
"Obviously, we were not expecting Israel to let the humanitarian aid reach Gaza, but we thought the intervention method would be different," Oğuz Çelikkol said.
"We thought Israel would intervene in the flotilla, but we were expecting a more pacific intervention; perhaps to make the ship’s propeller malfunction, or to wait until it reached Israeli territorial waters and then issue a warning," he told Hürriyet.
Çelikkol raised the possibility Israel received bad intelligence "about the possible presence of weapons on the ship, or about the fact that there could have been armed resistance to their intervention."
He speculated an Egyptian, who was on board the Mavi Marama and decided not to fly back to Turkey with the rest of the people on board the flotilla, was an Egyptian intelligence agent.
"At that time it was a known fact that Egypt was very concerned about Turkey’s increased visibility in the region. This is a theory that comes to the fore when we investigate why Israel intervened so violently on the ship," the former ambassador told Hürriyet.
Çelikkol noted the crisis in Israel-Turkey relations was expected following Israel's 2009 Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.
"There was serious dialogue going on between Israel and Syria via Turkey. Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister at that time, came to Turkey and then the operation in Gaza took place one week later. This certainly had a negative effect on the Turkish side," he said.
When asked about reconciliation between the two countries, Çelikkol said he believed normalization was possible.
"These crises have left deep scars on both nations. They will take time to heal. Israel has apologized and there seems to be a general agreement on the final details," he said.
"Turkish–Israeli relations need to normalize, especially now that the Middle East is passing through very difficult times. But normalization of relations does not mean that Turkey will give up its support for the Palestinians, or that the military dimension of relations will continue."