The Netanyahu government's decision to send back to Ankara the four flotilla boats used by the Turkish IHH terrorist sponsors of Hamas was Israel's fourth gesture of abject appeasement in a week to Ankara, which continues to whip up anti-Israel agitation in line with its undisguised hostility towards the Jewish state, debkafile's military sources report.
The Islam-orientated government of Recep Erdogan is cracking down on pro-Israeli elements of the Turkish high army command, including the chief of staff; the IHH group which is closely allied with the government elite continues to foster ties with fellow Islamic terrorists; and Ankara has abused the conditions of purchase of Israel drones and is sharing their advanced technology with Syria, a country at war with the Jewish state.
Yet Thursday, July 22, Netanyahu's inner cabinet of seven resolved to return the four IHH-owned vessels which led the flotilla which Israeli commandos prevented from breaking the Gaza blockade on May 31, virtually without any strings attached.
Israel had its reward a few hours later: The UN Human Rights Council responded to Turkey's demand for an international judicial inquiry into Israel's conduct in the flotilla episode of May 31.
Its very makeup promises Israel a priori a rough ride: Britain's Sir Edmond de Silva, former UN prosecutor into war crimes in Sierra Leone, Karl Hudson Phillips of Trinidad and Tobago, late of the Hague international tribunal and Mary Shanthi Dairiam of Malaysia, activist in Asian aid and women's rights organizations.
Israel's two independent inquiry probes are dismissed as of no account.
Even UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon saw another biased Goldstone report coming and announced a second probe to examine both Israeli and Turkish conduct of the flotilla case.
Still, notwithstanding all the international pressures Ankara is generating, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, defense minister Ehud Barak and foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman are determined to keep their heads stuck in the sand and delude themselves that appeasement will restore the rosy ties of yore.
Hence, such pointless gestures as –
1. The Counter Terrorism Bureau, which is part of the Prime Minister's Office, suddenly cancelled the travel advisory issued after the flotilla incident warning Israelis not to travel to Turkey, because "the situation in Turkey has eased and Israelis were no longer in direct danger."
This announcement came on July 20, the day after Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu made a point of meeting Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Damascus.
When security and intelligence experts called these assumptions totally unfounded, Bureau explained that the decision was not colored by political considerations but security grounds.
2. This explanation was proved false the following day when Jerusalem agreed to let Turkey have the last four Heron drones of a ten-UAV transaction despite the discovery – first revealed by debkafile on July 17 – that Ankara was misusing Israel's high-tech surveillance craft to help Syrian president Bashar Assad hunt down PKK Kurds transiting his country and Lebanon, in violation of the terms of sale.
For the original debkafile disclosure, click here.
3. Early on in the week, the military inquiry commission headed by Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland, which was set up by the chief of staff to investigate the flotilla episode, found that the "peace activists" aboard the Turkish Mavi Marmara (which is to be returned) opened fire on the Israeli commandos who boarded the ship and so initiated the clash in which 8 Turks and a Turkish-American died.
This finding was consistently played down to Israeli media on the initiative of the Prime Minister's Office.
4. Then came the decision Friday, July 23, when most Israelis are away on vacation, to release the four boats to Ankara – even though Ankara and the extremist IHH which owns them are known to be preparing another anti-Israeli flotilla to aid Hamas-ruled Palestinian Gaza Strip (which incidentally opened a multi-storied shopping mall this week which was shown in television packed with shoppers.)
The Israeli ministers, knowing who owned the ship and Ankara's plans, asked that the returned ships not be used for another blockade-busting expedition to the Gaza Strip.Nothing has been heard of Ankara's response.
In an article the New York Times published this week, "Sponsor of Flotilla Tied to Elite of Turkey," Arcan Citlioglu, a Turkish terrorist expert at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul, was quoted as saying: "The government could have stopped the ship if it wanted to, but the mission to Gaza served both the IHH and the government by making both heroes at home and in the Arab world.
Netanyahu and Barak, in contrast, have made sure that Israel comes out of the flotilla affair badly damaged.
The Erdogan government's anti-Israel policies are paying off so handsomely that he has no incentive for change – the feeble gestures on offer from Jerusalem were certainly no incentive, when Thursday, Turkey and Iran signed a 1 billion euro ($1.29 billion) contract to build a 660-km pipeline that will transfer the Islamic state's natural gas to Turkey.