In what is seen in Israel as a purely anti-Semitic move, ICC judges are calling for a renewed probe into the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident. The Union of Comoros, an Arab League country that does not recognize Israel, initiated the request.
ICC judges asked the chief prosecutor Thursday to reopen the investigation into the Mavi Marmara incident.
In 2010, the Israeli Navy intercepted the Mavi Marmara ship as it attempted to break the blockade on Gaza. The so-called activists on board the ship ambushed the IDF soldiers with knives and metal rods. In the ensuing scuffle, eight Turks and one Turkish-American were killed and several IDF soldiers were severely injured. Turkey severed diplomatic ties with Israel following the incident, although the two countries are in the process of restoring the relationship.
The case was referred to the International Criminal Court in May 2013 by the Union of Comoros, the country where the Mavi Marmara had been registered. The Comoros is a member of the Arab League and has never recognized nor established diplomatic relations with the State of Israel. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened a preliminary investigation but determined in November that even if war crimes were committed, they “would not be of sufficient gravity to justify further action by the ICC.”
The Comoros asked the ICC in January to review Bensouda’s decision. In response, the ICC issued a statement Thursday in which two judges, Joyce Aluoch and Cuno Tarfusser, said that Bensouda “committed material errors in her determination of the gravity of the potential case” by not considering how the Mavi Marmara passengers were treated upon their arrival in Israel. They asked her to reconsider investigating. A third judge, Péter Kovács, dissented.
“IDF soldiers acted in self-defense in stopping an attempt to break through the maritime closure that was carried out in accordance with international law as determined by a committee appointed by the UN Secretary General, a commission headed by a Supreme Court judge and international observers,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said.
He accused the ICC of hypocrisy, noting that “at a time when Assad in Syria is slaughtering tens of thousands of his own people, when Iran is executing hundreds, and Hamas in Gaza is using children as human shields, the court chooses to deal with Israel for cynical political reasons.”
“The soldiers followed international law and defended themselves from violence by terrorists,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon asserted. “We are fully backing the fighters, and we will fight to the bitter end against any attempt to harm them. The attempts to smear the name of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, are political, cynical and unbearable.”
By: Sara Abramowicz, United with Israel
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