Hamas welcomes Turkey’s move to expel Israeli envoy

2011-09-02 16:34
Hamas, the movement ruling the Gaza Strip, today welcomed Turkey’s decision to expel the Israeli ambassador as it criticised the Jewish state’s siege of the enclave.

“Hamas welcomes the decision (of Turkey) to expel the Israeli ambassador and considers it as a clear answer to Israeli crimes,” Sami Abu Zuhri, spokesperson for the movement, told AFP.

Turkey said today it was expelling the Israeli ambassador to Ankara and suspending all military ties with the Jewish state after a leaked UN report condemned excessive force by Israel against a Turkish-led aid flotilla heading towards the Gaza Strip on March 31 last year.

Turkey said it did not recognise Israel’s right to blockade Gaza – which the UN report said was legal – and intended to take its protest to The International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Hamas too criticised “Israel’s refusal to lift the siege on Gaza” and called the UN report on the flotilla raid “unfair and unbalanced”.

The leaked UN report, however, says that Israeli forces during the May 31, 2010, raid on the flotilla used “excessive force”.

A day after leaked extracts of the report into the raid appeared in the media, Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul said that Ankara would reject it, regarding it as “null and void”.

The Israeli government, meanwhile, indicated it would accept most of the findings, but claimed vindication over its right to impose a blockade on the Palestinian territory.

The raid on the flotilla triggered a serious deterioration in relations between Israel and Turkey, once allies.

Turkey has demanded “an apology” from Israel as well as compensation to the bereaved Turkish families and the lifting of the blockade of Gaza.

Eight Turkish nationals and an American of Turkish descent died on the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship of the six-vessel convoy, after Israeli special forces in speed boats and dropped from helicopters boarded it in international waters.