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Turkey-Israel ties fall to new low in response to UN flotilla report

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AP

(Read caption) Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu speaks to the media in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, Sept. 2. Turkey said Friday it was expelling the Israeli ambassador and cutting military ties with Israel over the last year's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, further souring the key Mideast relationship between Turkey and Israel.

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Turkey-Israel relations dipped to a new low today over a long-awaited United Nations report on the Gaza flotilla debacle, freezing a key regional alliance despite more than a year of attempts to resuscitate ties.

Turkey announced today that it is expelling Israel's ambassador and suspending all joint military agreements after failing to secure a formal apology from Israel for the deaths of eight Turks and one Turkish-American on May 31, 2010, when Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara, the flagship of the flotilla.

The convoy of ships had been seeking to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza, which Israel said was necessary to prevent the Islamist militant group Hamas from obtaining weapons but which many in the international community had objected to on humanitarian grounds.

The UN report, due to be formally released today but leaked yesterday by The New York Times, surprised many by declaring Israel's blockade of Gaza as legal. While it criticized Israeli commandos for using "excessive and unreasonable" force in halting the mainly Turkish flotilla, it requested merely that Israel "express regret" for the deaths and pay unspecified reparations to the families, the Times reported.

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