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ICC Reopens 2010 Mavi Marmara Case Against Israel

July 20, 2015

“Listen to me, Lord; hear what my accusers are saying!  Should good be repaid with evil?  Yet they have dug a pit for me.  Remember that I stood before you and spoke in their behalf to turn your wrath away from them.”  (Jeremiah 18:19-20)

Just seven months after the Hague’s International Criminal Court’s (ICC) chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, closed the file on the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident, concluding that the crimes were of insufficient gravity to fall under the court’s jurisdiction, the ICC ordered Bensouda to open a criminal investigation of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) naval officers.

The ICC said Bensouda “committed material errors in her determination of the gravity of the potential case.”  (ICC)

Fatou Bensouda-ICC Deputy Prosecutor

Fatou Bensouda, ICC Chief Prosecutor since June 2012  (Photo by Max Koot Studio)

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that the ICC judges were “motivated by cynical politics.”

“At a time when [Bashar] 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,” Netanyahu said, noting that the IDF naval officers acted “in self-defense in stopping an attempt to break a blockade established in accordance with international law.”  (JPost)

A day before the clash, the Israeli Navy had ordered the Gaza Freedom Flotilla to disembark at the Ashdod Port or await boarding by the military.

The flotilla refused to change course, and the next day the Israeli officers fell into a painful trap.  At the end of the skirmish, the United Nations reported nine Turkish nationals on the ship were killed, and Israel reported 10 of its soldiers were injured, one with serious wounds.

Although the flotilla claimed to be carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians, the activists in the six-vessel fleet trying to break the maritime blockade were “less interested in bringing in aid than in promoting their radical agenda, playing into the hands of Hamas provocations,” said Yigal Palmor, the 2010 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesperson.

The MFA found in 2010 that “the Mavi Marmara did not carry any humanitarian aid except for the passengers’ personal belongings.”  Three other ships among the flotilla also had no humanitarian aid.

Instead, the ship carried piles of knives, wrenches, clubs, catapults, metal pipes and other makeshift weapons, which the ship passengers wielded against the Israeli forces, attacking them as they boarded.

However, when Bensouda closed the probe in November 2014, she made no mention of the “lethal, pre-planned and organized violence” committed by the Mavi Marmara activists, which sparked conflict with the Israeli military.

Mavi Marmara

The Mavi Marmara leaves port (Photo by the Free Gaza Movement)

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said this past week that the ICC’s choice to investigate Israel for the incident was “hypocritical and outrageous.”  (Jerusalem Online)

“The fighters follow international law and defended themselves against the violent behavior of terrorists,” Ya’alon said.  “We are fully backing the fighters and we will fight till the bitter end against any attempt to harm them.”

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely also issued a statement this past week, saying, “It’s very puzzling to me why the International Criminal Court would decide to open a probe into soldiers who defended themselves against brutal attacks by terrorists aboard the Marmara.”

“Palestinian actors … are trying all the time to incite international bodies against Israel.  I hope those same bodies will be able to identify the incitement and not help it along,” she states.

The global political incitement against Israel ignores the fact that Gaza has received an estimated 15,000 tons of supplies, including food, medicine and clothing, per week via land crossings from Israel.

“Ships forcing their way into Gaza will do nothing to aid the people there.  Existing land crossings are more than capable of meeting their needs,” the MFA’s Palmor said in 2010.

“Truckloads of meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, milk powder, baby food, wheat and other staples arrive in Gaza on a daily basis.  Building materials are also shipped in, when monitored by International organization[s] so as not to be commandeered by Hamas for the fortification of bunkers.”  (MFA)

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