MV Mavi Marmara

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MV Mavi Marmara
MV Mavi Marmara leaving Antalya for Gaza on May 22, 2010.
NameMV Mavi Marmara
OwnerIHH (İnsani Yardım Vakfı)[3]
OperatorIHH (İnsani Yardım Vakfı)[3]
BuilderTürkiye Gemi Sanayii A.Ş.[4]
Yard number302[4]
CompletedNovember 9, 1994[2]
HomeportMoroni, Comoros (2010). Previously Istanbul, Turkey
IdentificationIMO number9005869[1]
General characteristics
TypePassenger ship
Tonnage4,142 GT
Length93 m (305 ft)[1]
Beam20 m (66 ft)[1]
Draft4 m (13 ft)[6]
Installed power4,400 kW[2]
Propulsion2[clarification needed][2]
Speedmax. 9.9 knots (18.3 km/h; 11.4 mph)- avg. 7.2 knots (13.3 km/h; 8.3 mph)[6]
Capacity1,080 passengers[5]

MV Mavi Marmara is a Comoros-flagged[7] passenger ship, which was formerly owned and operated by İDO Istanbul Fast Ferries Co. Inc. on the line Sarayburnu, Istanbul-Marmara Island-Avşa Island in the Sea of Marmara. Built at the Golden Gate Shipyard by Turkish Shipbuilding Co. in 1994, the ship has a capacity of 1,080 passengers.[5] It is best known for its participation in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and the deadly confrontation that took place on it during the Gaza flotilla raid.


Gaza Freedom Flotilla

The MV Mavi Marmara was purchased in 2010 by the IHH, a Turkish NGO active as a charity organization in more than 115 countries.[8] The group has represented its Turkish language name in English in various ways, "IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation"[9] among them. It has held Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 2004,[10][11] and is endorsed by international figures that include South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire.[8][12]

The German IHH is classified in Israel and Holland as a terrorist organization.[13] Much of their money goes to the Union of Good, which is designated as a Specially Designated Terrorist Group by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control and banned by Executive Order 13224.[14] In 2010, the US State Department expressed great concern over the group's links with senior Hamas officials.[15] Israel's Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, an NGO with close ties to the Israeli Defense Forces, along with multiple Israeli governmental officials have alleged that the IHH supports terrorism, has smuggled arms on behalf of terrorist groups, and has links to al-Qaeda and other Jihadist groups.[8][12] The IHH denies these claims, and Greta Berlin, a director of the Free Gaza Movement, called the claims "utterly scurrilous", characterizing them as an attempt by the Israeli government to discredit the movement.[8]

However, IHH Turkey has denied any links to the group in Germany[16] and, as of 2016, continues to work on projects in Gaza.[17][18] Turkish legal authorities are investigating allegations that one of the key figures behind the May 2010 Gaza flotilla, Fehmi Bülent Yıldırım, was involved in transferring funds to al-Qaida, the Turkish daily Habertürk reported on June 15, 2012.[19]

The IHH acquired the Mavi Marmara at a cost of $800,000, to be defrayed by public donations, as no shipowner was willing to risk their vessel on the journey.[3] The ship took part in a flotilla of ships operated by activist groups from 37 different countries with the intention of directly confronting the Israeli blockade over Gaza. On May 30, 2010, while in international waters and en route to Gaza, Israeli Naval Forces communicated that a naval blockade over the Gaza area was in force and ordered the ships to follow them to Ashdod Port or to be boarded. The ships declined and were boarded in international waters. The boarding started at 2 am on May 31, 2010, and was completed by 8 am. Reports from journalists on the ship[20] and from the UN report on the incident concluded that the Israeli military opened fire with live rounds before boarding the ship.[21]

Violent incident

Passengers on the ship actively attempted to thwart a landing on the ship by Israeli commandos. In the violent clash that followed, nine activists were killed (according to the UN Report),[22] and a tenth died four years later of his wounds.[23] Several dozen activists were claimed to be injured, some seriously. Israel claimed 10 of its soldiers were injured, one seriously.[24]

The U.N. report stated that knives from the ship's kitchens (plus one traditional, ceremonial knife), some catapults (slingshots) and metal pipes the passengers cut from the ship's railings were found. Turkey unveiled its final report on the Israeli attack on the Gaza-bound aid convoy on February 11, 2011.[25] The Israeli government-appointed Turkel Commission unveiled its final report in January 2011, and found both the blockade and the force used by the Israeli soldiers to be legal. A Polish authority on admiralty law, Professor Andrzej Makowski of the Polish Naval Academy in Gdynia, also upheld this view in an extensive article in the Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs in May 2013.[26]

No humanitarian aid

The Mavi Marmara was a passenger ship and did not carry any humanitarian aid, though other ships (four of the six in the convoy) did carry aid supplies.[27] Israel said that they found knives, metal and wood sticks in the ship.[28] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed, that the humanitarian aid found, was scattered and thrown onto piles and not packed properly for transport, i.e. on wooden bases, and some of the equipment was crushed by the weight in transit. Medicines had already expired, or expired soon after the unloading, and a large part of the equipment (shoes, clothing) was worn and second hand, sterile equipment was carelessly wrapped.[29]

Release and return home

Mavi Marmara making a tour of Istanbul harbour on the occasion of her return to Istanbul

The Israeli government decided on July 23, 2010, to release the three ships of the Gaza Freedom flotilla, two of which had been moored at the Port of Haifa and the third at the Port of Ashdod since their interception. Three Turkish tugboats were dispatched to bring the ships back to Turkey. The Mavi Marmara was towed by the Ocean Ergun in a two-day ride to the Port of Iskenderun, arriving an August 7, 2010.[30]

Nobody was permitted to board the Mavi Marmara due to investigations underway by the public prosecutor, but broken windows and bullet holes on the glass of the pilothouse were visible in pictures released. The IHH emblem on the ship's port side was painted over in white.[31] According to Turkish news, forensic teams identified some 250 bullet holes in the ship, many of which they claim were painted or plastered over by Israel.[32] The ship returned to Istanbul harbour on December 26, 2010, in a welcoming ceremony attended by thousands.[33]

Freedom Flotilla II

A coalition of 22 NGOs announced on May 9, 2011, that a "Freedom Flotilla II" was planned for the third week of June 2011.[34] The Financial Times reported on June 17, 2011, that the Mavi Marmara would not be sailing, as previously announced. The IHH said that after damage caused last year to the ship, that it was not in a position to put to sea. The group stressed that it would still be part of the new flotilla; members of the group will board other ships in the effort.[35]

Ship's registry

  • ex MS Beydağı[4]

Sister ships

  • TDI Karadeniz,[4] since renamed Dream.[36]


  1. ^ a b c "MS Mavi Marmara". Digital Seas. Retrieved May 31, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "Detay Gemi Listesi" (PDF) (in Turkish). Izmir Maritime Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 11, 2010. Retrieved May 31, 2010. |
  3. ^ a b c "Turkish rights group's cargo ship to set sail with Gaza aid". Hürriyet. May 13, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d "Mavi Marmara" (in Turkish). Türk Gemileri. Retrieved May 31, 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Mavi Marmara Yolcu Gemisi" (in Turkish). IDO. Archived from the original on June 3, 2010. Retrieved May 31, 2010.
  6. ^ a b "M/S Mavi Marmara" (in Turkish). Marine Traffic. Archived from the original on June 4, 2010. Retrieved May 31, 2010.
  7. ^ "İsrail 'uluslararası suları' kabul etti". June 1, 2010.
  8. ^ a b c d "Profile: Free Gaza Movement". BBC News. BBC. June 1, 2010. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  9. ^ "IHH Statement Regarding The Israeli Report". Archived from the original on August 20, 2010. IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation continues to insist on its request for an international probe to independently investigate the Israeli attack on Mavi Marmara.
  10. ^ "Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, The". NGO Branch, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  11. ^ "List of non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council as of 1 September 2009" (PDF). United Nations Economic and Social Council. Retrieved June 8, 2010.
  12. ^ a b Spencer, Richard (May 31, 2010). "Gaza flotilla: the Free Gaza Movement and the IHH". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  13. ^ Benjamin Weinthal (May 1, 2011). "Dutch government places IHH on terror list". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  14. ^ "Treasury Designates the Union of Good" (Press release). U.S. Department of the Treasury. November 12, 2008. Archived from the original on November 30, 2010.
    "Executive order 13224". U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control. August 28, 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 30, 2010.
    Hilary Krieger (March 6, 2010). "US concerned over IHH-Hamas ties". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
    "Portrait of IHH". Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. May 26, 2010. Archived from the original on May 30, 2010. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
    Jonathan Schanzer (May 31, 2010). "The Terror Finance Flotilla". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
    DPA (July 12, 2010). "Germany outlaws charity over alleged Hamas links". Haaretz. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  15. ^ "We have no links with the IHH in Germany". Istanbul: IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation. July 17, 2010. Archived from the original on February 5, 2017.
  16. ^ Lee, Iara (July 16, 2010). "Slandering the Good Guys: Some Basic Facts About IHH". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on July 28, 2019.
  17. ^ Fleishman, Jeffrey (June 6, 2010). "Turkish charity defends actions". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on July 28, 2019.
  18. ^ "Turkey investigating IHH head for funding al-Qaida". The Jerusalem Post. June 15, 2010.
  19. ^ Gabbatt, Adam (May 31, 2010). "Israel attacks Gaza flotilla - live coverage". The Guardian. Archived from the original on September 14, 2013.
  20. ^ HRC report 2010, p. 26
    Interview with Jamal Elshayyal. Al Jazeera. June 3, 2010. Archived from the original on March 25, 2019.
    Katz, Yaakov. "Navy commandos:'They came for war'". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
    "Details emerge of bloodshed aboard Gaza-bound ship". June 2, 2010. Archived from the original on June 6, 2010.
  21. ^ "Fifteenth session, agenda item 1" (PDF). United Nations Human Rights Council. September 27, 2010. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  22. ^ "Mavi Marmara death toll rises to 10". Al Jazeera. May 25, 2014. Archived from the original on June 8, 2014.
  23. ^ "Deaths as Israeli forces storm Gaza aid ship". BBC News. May 31, 2010.
  24. ^ "Turkey unveils its final report on Israeli attack on Gaza-bound aid convoy". Turkish Press. February 11, 2011.
  25. ^ "The Mavi Marmara Incident and the Modern Law of Armed Conflict at Sea" (PDF). Israel Journal on Foreign Relations. May 2013.
  26. ^ "Summary of equipment and aid aboard the Gaza flotilla". Israel MFA. June 7, 2010. Archived from the original on June 13, 2010.
  27. ^ "Maj-Gen (res.) Eiland presents conclusions of examination team". GxMSDev. Archived from the original on November 24, 2011.
  28. ^ Ronen, Gil (June 10, 2014). "It's Official: There was No Humanitarian Aid on Mavi Marmara". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  29. ^ "Mavi Marmara gemisi Türkiye doğru yola çıkıyor". Hürriyet (in Turkish). August 4, 2010.
  30. ^ "'Mavi Marmara' İskenderun'da". Hürriyet (in Turkish). August 7, 2010.
  31. ^ Aktuğ, Ufuk (August 10, 2010). "Mavi Marmara'da 250 mermi izi çıktı" [250 bullet scars found on the Mavi Marmara]. Radikal (in Turkish). Retrieved January 19, 2014.
  32. ^ "Thousands greets Mavi Marmara aid ship". Today's Zaman. December 26, 2010. Archived from the original on December 28, 2010.
  33. ^ Güsten, Susanne (May 11, 2011). "A Year After Israeli Raid, 2nd Flotilla to Set Sail for Gaza". The New York Times.
  34. ^ Tobias Buck (June 17, 2011). "Turkish flagship pulls out of Gaza flotilla". Financial Times. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  35. ^ "TDI Karadeniz (9005871)". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved March 3, 2021.

External links