Israel brushes off Turkish apology calls on raid

Jerusalem (CNN) — “Israel will never apologize for defending its citizens,” a high-ranking Israeli government official told CNN on Monday, after Turkey reportedly demanded an apology or an inquiry into an Israeli raid on an aid ship that killed nine Turkish citizens.

“Of course we regret the loss of life, but it was not the Israeli side that initiated the violence,” the official said.

Hurriyet newspaper quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday as saying that Turkey would “cut off relations” with Israel unless “they either apologize or accept an international commission and its report.”

“(The) Israelis have three options: They will either apologize or acknowledge an international-impartial inquiry and its conclusion. Otherwise, our diplomatic ties will be cut off,” Davutoglu told Hurriyet early Sunday in an interview on his plane returning from Kyrgyzstan, the newspaper reported.

A Turkish foreign ministry official later told CNN that Davutoglu’s comments were “a strong warning to Israel,” yet did not exactly mean ending relations.

The wide-ranging military and diplomatic alliance between the Jewish state and its powerful regional ally has been badly shaken by the May 31 Israeli raid on a flotilla of aid ships bound for Gaza.

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