IDF Soldiers Accused of Theft in the Mavri Marmara Case
The Israeli troops that boarded the Turkish ship were accused of having stolen and subsequently sold personal belongings of the activists on board. Four soldiers were detained on suspicion of stealing and selling personal laptops that belonged to the Turks on Mavri Marmara. Other accusations refer to stealing of money and electronic devices.
When asked about these allegations reported by the Ynetnews site, affiliated to the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, a representative of IDF said that at this point there is no clear evidence that the appliances and the amounts of money in question originated from Mavri Marmara. He also added that the matter is investigated by the military police criminal department.
A high-ranking officer admitted that even though the investigation is at its preliminary stages, it is possible that “embarrassing and shameful” things be uncovered on this issue. There are soldiers, the officer bitterly said, that don’t know what their uniform represents.
Hannen Zoabi, an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset, who was on Mavri Marmara, said that the theft must have occurred while the Israeli navy confiscated the ship and docked it in Ashdod. She believes that what is being released to the media is not the whole truth, and that a lot of other things about what happened there will be unveiled.
According to the Arab Israeli Knesset member the goods were stolen while docking in Ashdod, when the soldiers forced the activists to place their goods “in a big pile”. She even goes on to say that there was an activist who was able to reach to his belongings and observed that 2,000 euros and $2,000 were missing.
Zoabi warns that this is not about one laptop, or one wallet, or one Israeli soldier, but about hundreds of computers, hundreds of cameras and hundreds of valuable products, tens of thousands of euros and dollars which belong to the 600 activists.
One of the organizers of the flotilla, Lubna Masarwa, said that she was missing at the end of this raid $1,000 Israeli currency, a camera, her passport, the driving license, and telephones.
She called this action of IDF “sea piracy and theft,” and said she didn’t expect the money to be returned even though she filed a complaint through Adallah, a legal center for Arab minority rights in Israel, asking to be given back her belongings. “This is an army with no morals, I consider myself living in a mafia country, where there isn’t any protection for my life, for my human rights, for my belongings,” she added.
These allegations complicate the already complicated Mavri Marmara case, investigated now by two commissions, one Israeli, and another established by Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. Secretary-General, and led by former New Zealand PM G. Palmer, and former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe.
Top government officials have already responded to the questions of the Israeli commission. Thus, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu asserted that the IFD acted within international law boundaries (an allegation that won’t stick anymore should these accusations about the theft of belongings prove right).
Ehud Barack, Israeli Ministry of Defense, took the responsibility upon himself for the military action and said there was no other way the soldiers could have acted in that situation. He also released that at a certain point attempts were made to dissuade the activists from coming any further, and, when they failed, even the idea of letting them pass, for the sake of maintaining the good relations with Turkey, was taken into account. But the thought that more lives could be placed in danger if weapons were smuggled under the humanitarian cover made the Israeli want to check thoroughly the vessel.
Both the PM and the Minister of Defense emphasized that the Israeli soldiers only responded to the attack of the activists. They both expressed their regret that it had to end up like this.
The Turkish government had a very nervous response to this incident, and the relations between the two countries were virtually frozen, which put Israel in a rather difficult spot, since Turkey was its strongest military ally in the region. An attempt is being made right now to replace Turkey with Romania.
Last week, a high-ranked leader of al-Qaeda addressed the Turkish people with the injunction to remember the days of yore and to make their Ottoman Empire ancestry proud by denying the existence of Israel.
That is what makes these investigations so important. In an attempt to make amends and try to win Turkey back to the European cause, the British PM David Cameron, after praising the amazing economic steps forward made by Turkey, promised the Turks a very strong support in their way to integrate into the European Union (though the matter is more in the hands of Greece, which has already proven its resolve in 2008, at the NATO Summit in Bucharest, when it cut off Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia’s admission to NATO, in spite of the support of many NATO members, including U.S.A.), and a fair investigation of the Mavri Marmara case. Cameron had in mind the U.N. panel of inquiry. Israeli officials said they agreed to answer questions before that panel if the soldiers who participated in the operation were not questioned. Would this condition have anything to do with these new allegations?11