Gaza flotilla lawyers ask ICC to reconsider probe

Comoros requests review of court’s refusal to investigate Israel’s 2010 raid of boat trying to break Gaza blockade

The Mavi Marmara is tugged out of Haifa harbor long after the raid (photo credit: Herzl Shapira/Flash 90)
The Mavi Marmara is tugged out of Haifa harbor long after the raid (photo credit: Herzl Shapira/Flash 90)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Lawyers representing the Comoros on Thursday asked International Criminal Court judges to order its chief prosecutor to reconsider her decision not to probe Israel’s deadly 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.

The Comoros, which has referred the case to the ICC, “asks the Chamber to request the Prosecutor to reconsider her decision not to open an investigation,” its lawyers said in papers filed before the Hague-based court.

Ten Turkish citizens died during a melee with Israeli commandos who raided the six-ship flotilla which was seeking to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip in May 2010.

The ship on which the activists sailed, the MV Mavi Marmara, is registered in the tiny Indian Ocean island country, which has been a state party to the ICC since 2006.

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda however in November said there would be no investigation leading to a prosecution, despite a “reasonable basis” to believe that war crimes were committed.

Bensouda said any potential cases arising from an investigation into the incident would not be of “sufficient gravity” to justify further ICC action.

But the Comoros’ lawyers said “those on the flotilla are all entitled to the ICC’s condemnation of impunity and to its sanctioning of individuals who might have hoped to enjoy impunity.”

Bensouda failed to “take relevant matters” into consideration, including the broader context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the lawyers said.

“She should thus reconsider her decision.”

The appeal came less than a month after Bensouda announced she would launch a preliminary probe into whether Israel committed war crimes during the summer war with Hamas-led fighters in Gaza.

The Palestinians formally joined the ICC in early January, allowing it to lodge war crimes and crimes against humanity complaints against Israel as of April.

Israel and the United States condemned Bensouda’s decision, with US officials calling it a “tragic irony” and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted it as “scandalous.”

Israel imposed the blockade on Gaza in 2006 and strengthened it a year later when the Islamist Hamas movement took control of Gaza, then eased it somewhat following the international outcry over the killing of the Turkish activists.

The ICC, which was set up in 2002, tries persons accused of the world’s worst crimes, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

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