1 of 2 | An frame grab from an Israeli Navy video shows clashes between Israeli soldiers and activists on board the Turkish aid ship Mavi Marmara bound for Gaza on May 31, 2010. Israel vowed to continue a blockade of aid ships to Gaza. UPI/HO | License Photo
ISTANBUL, Turkey, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Turkish witnesses testified Thursday Israeli forces treated them inhumanely during a 2010 attack on a flotilla that resulted in the deaths of nine people.
The fourth hearing in the trial of four Israeli military commanders accused in the deaths of the activists was held Thursday in Istanbul after a recess since November, Today's Zaman reported.
In May 2010, Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara, which was part of a humanitarian relief flotilla of ships seeking to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza, after the vessel's crew ignored calls to re-route to the Israeli port of Ashdod. A battle ensued on the Mavi Marmara during which nine activists were killed and a number of commandos injured.
Former chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, former Navy head Adm. Eliezer Marom, former military intelligence head Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin and former head of Air Force intelligence Avishay Levi face charges of "inciting murder through cruelty or torture" and "inciting injury with firearms" among other charges for their roles as leaders in the attack. They each face up to 18,000 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
One activist on board the Mavi Marmara said Israeli forces treated him inhumanely, causing permanent health problems, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Another witness aboard a nearby ship, Mary Ann Wright, a 65-year-old former U.S. Army colonel, testified the scale and force of the military intervention could only have been interpreted as an attack on the activists.
Israel has called the trial "political theater," saying that the accused have not even been notified of the charges, the Post reported.