Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says policies pursued by the Israeli regime greatly undermine peace and stability in the Middle East.
In an exclusive interview with Doha-based al-Sharq newspaper on Tuesday, Erdogan said Israeli policies constitute a major obstacle to the promotion of tranquility and security across the region and have led to serious repercussions, such as its deadly attack on the Gaza-bound Freedom flotilla aid convoy, the Palestinian Information Center reported.
Early on May 31, 2010, nine Turkish activists aboard the aid flotilla were killed when Israeli military forces opened fire on them in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
The flotilla, organized by the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, was carrying humanitarian aid such as medical supplies and construction materials to the Gaza Strip, which has been under a tight blockade by the Israeli regime since 2007.
The Turkish premier also pointed out that the UN Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission confirmed Tel Aviv’s responsibility for the attack in a September 2010 report.
According to the 56-page UN document, Israeli forces committed a series of crimes during and after the raid, including willful killing and torture of humanitarian activists.
"I think that the UN fact-finding committee will also affirm that there is no country above the law," Erdogan noted.
The Turkish prime minister added that his country will never give up its demands for an official apology by the Israeli regime as well as financial compensations for the murder of its nationals aboard the Gaza-bound flotilla.
He also called for an end to the ongoing Gaza siege and condemned the blockade of the coastal sliver as a form of “collective punishment.”
The Tel Aviv regime imposed an economic siege on the Gaza Strip in June 2007, after Hamas took control of the enclave.
The illegal blockade has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the impoverished territory.
Some 1.5 million people are being denied their basic rights, including the freedom of movement, and their rights to decent living conditions, work, health and education. Poverty and unemployment rates stand at approximately 80% and 40% respectively in the Gaza Strip.