The ICC’s head prosecutor rejected a request to reopen an investigation into Israeli’s actions in the Mavi Marmara incident, noting the appeal chamber ignored the “violent resistance” of the ship’s passengers.

Turkey Marmara Israel

Mavi Marmara Activists Prepare to Attack IDF Soldiers. (IDF)

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda turned down a request by the appeals chamber to reopen the investigation into Israel’s actions in the Mavi Marmara incident, noting that the chamber ignored the fact that Turkish activists on the ship had attacked IDF soldiers. The appeals chamber can still force the prosecutor to reopen the investigation after reviewing her rejection.

In 2010, the Israeli navy intercepted the Mavi Marmara, a Comoros-flagged Turkish ship, as it attempted to violate the blockade on Gaza. Passengers on board ambushed the IDF soldiers with knives and metal rods. In the ensuing scuffle, 10 Turkish “activists” were killed and several soldiers were seriously wounded. The Union of Comoros, an Arab League state that does not recognize Israel, called on the ICC to investigate Israel for war crimes in May 2013.

Bensouda closed the investigation last November, saying that any crimes that may have occurred were not of “sufficient gravity” to merit ICC prosecution. The appeals chamber, by a 2-1 decision, called on Bensouda last week to reconsider, saying she should have considered whether there was a “deliberate plan or policy to attack, kill or injure civilians.” Bensouda replied in her appeal that the judges had ignored “the unique context of violent resistance aboard the Mavi Marmara.”

“If new reliable facts or information become available, the prosecution may reconsider her decision,” she added.

Arms smuggling by sea

A boat with rocket-producing materials intercepted on the way to Gaza. (IDF)

Israel’s Foreign Ministry applauded Bensouda’s decision, stating, “To begin with, there was no place for the court to deal with this issue. Israel acted in self-defense and in accordance with international law.”

Turkey, meanwhile, is eager to rebuild ties with Israel, which deteriorated after the incident. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed in June that bilateral talks are underway, saying, “It’s quite normal for the two countries to talk for the normalization of the ties… Expert-level talks have been held between the two countries for awhile.” Turkey is demanding, however, that Israel lift the maritime blockade on Gaza and pay financial compensation to the families of the Turks killed during the raid.

Israel is unlikely to end the blockade, which is jointly enforced with Egypt, as the IDF routinely intercepts shipments of sophisticated weaponry from Iran to Hamas for use against Israeli civilians. A committee of the UN Secretary General’s office has confirmed that the blockade is legal under international law.

By: Sara Abramowicz, United with Israel


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