US court rejects appeal by parents who sued Barak over son’s death on flotilla
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US court rejects appeal by parents who sued Barak over son’s death on flotilla

Federal judge upholds district court dismissal of suit against ex-defense minister, who Furkan Dogan’s family argued was responsible for his death in IDF raid

Ehud Barak during a press conference in Tel Aviv announcing their newly formed Democratic Camp party, July 25, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Ehud Barak during a press conference in Tel Aviv announcing their newly formed Democratic Camp party, July 25, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

A federal judge in the US earlier this month ruled to uphold a district court decision dismissing a lawsuit against Ehud Barak by a mother and father who claimed he was responsible for their son’s death during the 2010 Israeli military raid on the Mavi Marmara Gaza flotilla.

In their 2015 lawsuit against Barak, who was the defense minister presiding over the operation during which Furkan Dogan was killed, Ahmet and Hikmet Dogan claimed unlawful death and torture.

The lawsuit said that Furkan Dogan, an American national who was a resident of Turkey, was shot five times, including in the head, from short range.

The US government filed a motion on Barak’s behalf at the time, stating that the former prime minister and defense minister enjoyed immunity. The Central District Court of California dismissed the suit in 2016, arguing that it had no jurisdiction to prosecute a foreign official who acted within the confines of Israeli law.

This November 6, 2008, photo made available by his family shows Furkan Dogan, the American citizen who was one of nine activists killed in the IDF’s takeover of a Gaza-bound flotilla (AP/Dogan Family Archive)

Nearly three years after the Dogans appealed the district court ruling, the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals dismissed the case on August 2, ruling in favor of Barak.

“We affirm the district court judgment dismissing the Dogans’ suit on the ground that Barak is entitled to common law foreign official immunity,” the court concluded.

The judges argued that ruling in favor of the Dogans could have created a reality in which any citizen whose family member was killed during a military operation abroad could go on to sue senior officials from a foreign state.

The naval raid on a Turkish aid ship trying to breach Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip imploded relations between Jerusalem and Ankara. The raid, in which Israel Defense Forces commandos were attacked by activists on board, left 10 Turks dead and several soldiers wounded.

Footage taken from the ‘Mavi Marmara’ security cameras showing activists preparing to attack IDF soldiers, May 2010. (IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)
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