10th passenger on Gaza flotilla dies after four-year coma

May 30, 2014
Sarah Benton

The IDF aboard the Mavi Marmara, May 2010.
Mavi Marmara death toll rises to 10

Turkish activist aboard the Gaza Flotilla in 2010 died after a four-year coma caused by being shot by Israeli soldiers.

By Al Jazeera
May 25, 2014

A Turkish activist who was critically injured in the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident has died.

Ugur Suleyman Soylemez, 51, had spent four years in a coma after being shot by Israeli soldiers onboard the Mavi Marmara ship.

He died on Friday evening in hospital.

Soylemez was a passenger on the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza in May 2010. He was one of dozens shot and wounded by Israeli soldiers as they boarded the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship in a flotilla of six.

Storming the flotilla, May 31, 2010. Photo by Reuters

Nine other activists were killed in the assault.

The incident triggered an international outcry and a severe diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel.

Deteriorating health

Following an initial eight months in hospital, he was sent home and cared for by his family while he remained in a coma.

One month ago his health deteriorated further, and he was transferred back to hospital.

Turkey withdrew diplomatic relations in the wake of the attack. Two months ago Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent announced that the two countries were close to reaching a settlement on the matter.

However, the families of those killed have said they will reject any deal unless Israel lifts the blockade of Gaza.

Comatose Marmara wounded dies, raising casualty number to ten

Ugur Suleyman Soylemez, 51, passes away after being in a coma for four years; news comes amid reports Turkey and Israel were about to finalize the terms of a formal settlement.

By Ynetnews
May 24, 2014

Ugur Suleyman Soylemez, 51, who was left in a coma for four years after being wounded in the IDF raid of the Mavi Marmara in 2010, passed away on Friday, Turkish media reported.

His death raises the Turkish death toll from the incident to ten.

The news comes amid reports Turkey and Israel were about to finalize the terms of a formal settlement.

The two nations, erstwhile allies, have been negotiating for months to end a diplomatic crisis over the Israeli commandoes’ boarding of the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship challenging Israel’s naval blockade of Palestinian-run Gaza Strip in 2010.

In a rapprochement brokered by Washington, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan last year and pledged compensation to the bereaved or hurt.

On Thursday, Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), that organized the Gaza-bound flotilla, said that it objected a compensation agreement in which legal cases against Israeli officials involved in the raid are dropped.

“We are warning the authorities against this clear violation of global law principles,” Ugur Yildirim, a lawyer for IHH, told reporters.

Israel is facing public and private prosecutions in Turkey over the deaths. Jerusalem has previously dismissed the cases as “political theater.”

Turkey was once Israel’s closest regional ally, though their relationship had deteriorated before the raid.

Last month Erdogan said the two countries were days or weeks away from an agreement.

The son of one activist who died aboard the Mavi Marmara told the news conference the families would accept neither apology nor compensation.

“We do not accept any agreements unless the blockade on Gaza is lifted. Israel will have to take a step back if we stand tall,” Ismail Bilgen told reporters.

Israel says the blockade on goods destined for Gaza is aimed at preventing the Palestinian militant group Hamas that controls the territory from smuggling in weapons.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Palestinian fishermen work to remake a fishing boat as Gaza’s Ark, 2013. The restoration was initially delayed by the closing of the Rafah crossing – but now completed, the boat has been sabotaged by explosives.

Support the International Freedom for Gaza Day

From Just foreign policy

On April 29, 2014, Gaza’s Ark—a refurbished boat that was set to sail in June from the port of Gaza out to sea carrying Palestinian export goods—was sabotaged when explosive devices caused substantial damage to its hull. Repairing the boat will cost about $30,000. The attack is still under investigation.

Gaza’s Ark can be ready to sail this fall—but we need your support to make it happen.

Human rights activists have called for an International Freedom for Gaza Day on May 31 to mark the fourth anniversary of the attack on the Mavi Marmara, which killed nine Turkish and a Turkish-American human rights activist—the tenth died this week after four years in a coma – as they attempted to challenge the blockade of Gaza. Actions drawing attention to the siege will take place in Gaza, Turkey, and around the world.

If you participate in social media, you have a unique opportunity to help raise the profile of the International Freedom Day for Gaza and Gaza’s Ark.
Tweet #UnblockGazaMay31.

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