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Turkey expels ambassador and suspends military agreements with Israel

Turkey's Foreign Minister has announced that his country has expelled the Israeli ambassador to Ankara. Making the announcement following the leaked publication of the UN Palmer Report into Israel's murderous assault on the Mavi Marmara, Ahmet Davutoglu said that his country is also suspending all military agreements with the Zionist state and reducing Turkey's own diplomatic representation in Tel Aviv.

In a press conference, Mr Davutoglu stressed that Turkey does not recognise the legitimacy of the Israeli-imposed siege on the Gaza Strip regardless of the claims made in the UN report that the siege is not incompatible with international law. He described the Israeli attack on the passengers of the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish vessel that took part in the 2010 Freedom Flotilla, as barbaric; Israel, he said, did not behave morally in the way that it dealt with the fleet of ships.

Expressing his deep sorrow that the report had been leaked, the Foreign Minister asserted that what had happened was extremely bad and was an indication of the UN's lack of seriousness in dealing with the matter.

The UN report into the 2010 Israeli navy attack on the Freedom Flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza confirms that Israel over-reacted with what it regarded as a threat. However, according to excerpts published by the New York Times, the report also claims that "Israel's security faces a real threat from militant groups in Gaza, and the maritime blockade has been imposed as a planned security measure with a view to preventing the entry of weapons into Gaza by sea and its application is consistent with the requirements of international law." It considered the loss of life, and the injuries caused by the Israeli commandos' use of force as "unacceptable".

The inquiry, which was headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, concluded that "Israel's decision to take control of the ships at such a distance from the blockaded Sector, with such force and without prior warning of the landing was excessive and an over-reaction on its part." Nevertheless, the inquiry also believes that the fleet of six ships "acted recklessly in its efforts to break the maritime blockade" on the Gaza Strip currently governed by Hamas.

The Palmer Report calls on Israel to release "a suitable statement expressing its regret" over the attack and to pay compensation to the families of the nine killed, as well as to those who were wounded.

Israeli Knesset (parliament) member Einat Wilf is a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee; she welcomed the outcome of the inquiry: "Clearly [the report] absolves Israel on the major issues concerning the legality of the blockade; the legality of the intervention against the ships in international waters, and the existence of violence and resistance to Israeli soldiers."

Hamas has criticised the report; spokesperson Sami Abu Zahri called it "an unfair and unbalanced report which contributes to allowing the Israeli occupation the opportunity to shirk responsibility".

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