Although the Israel-Turkey reconciliation deal would appear to be a done deal, right-wing activists Michael Ben Ari, Baruch Marzel, Itamar Ben Gvir and Bentzi Gopstein still hope to derail it, via a petition to the High Court, aimed at canceling the $21 million in compensation that Israel agreed to pay Turkey for the deaths of nine Hamas-affiliated provocateurs who were killed after they attacked IDF soldiers in 2010 on the Mavi Marmara, part of the Gaza flotilla.
The payment, according to the petition, “is a terrible blow to the rule of law and the standing of democracy in Israel. We cannot allow a situation where someone who attempts to undertake murder is compensated for committing a crime.” In addition, the petition states, “Cabinet members who approved the deal are not authorized to upend the democratic principles of Israel and erase the rule of law.”
Exacerbating the situation is the fact that organizers of the flotilla rejected all Israeli attempts to alleviate the situation, such as offering to transfer the aid in the flotilla ships to Gaza via Israeli naval vessels. It was clear, the petition said, that the intent and purpose of the organizers was to break the naval blockade of Gaza, technically an act of war – and such behavior cannot be condoned, much less rewarded, in a democratic nation.”
In addition, the petition said, the deal harms the trust of the public in the rule of law and democracy. A poll released Monday by the Maagar Mochor organization says that 57 percent of Israeli respondents were opposed to the Turkey deal, and demanded that three missing Israeli soldiers be returned as part of the agreement. IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul went missing during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, when witnesses saw their bodies dragged through the opening of a Hamas terror tunnel. The two were definitely killed in battle, the IDF said, but last month their status was redefined and they were declared as also being “missing in action” and in captivity.
Avraham Mengistu, along with a Bedouin Israeli, was captured by Hamas in September 2014, at the end of Operation Protective Edge. Hamas originally claimed that Mengistu had entered Gaza willingly and that he had been released to live as a civilian there, but later confirmed that it was holding him and the second individual.
The families of the three soldiers last week filed their own High Court petition to hold up the deal. The court has not stated when the case will be heard. The families have been demanding that the soldiers’ return be conditional on its approval – something Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said was not possible. As part of the agreement, Israel is allowing Turkey to become more active in Gaza, taking on projects such as the construction of a power plant, and the families had hoped that Israel could press Turkey to force Hamas to release the soldiers.
A special ministerial committee has been appointed to specifically deal with the fate of the three missing Israelis, in the wake of the approval by the government of the reconciliation deal between Israel and Turkey last week.