Ex-Israeli minister sued over flotilla raid that killed Turkish-American
AP photoFormer Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is being sued in the United States over his nation’s deadly raid of an aid flotilla that tried to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza in 2010.
The Turkish parents of 19-year-old Furkan Doğan, who was among 10 killed in the raid, sued Barak in federal court in Los Angeles on Oct. 16, claiming unlawful death and torture.
Barak, Israel’s defense minister at the time of the raid, was served with the papers on Oct. 20 after he gave a speech near Los Angeles.
The Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles could not immediately provide a contact for Barak, who is still in the area.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon, based in Jerusalem, said in a statement that the lawsuit “is yet another attempt to abuse otherwise legitimate legal tools for the cynical, political purpose of attacking the State of Israel.
“We are confident that the United States will not lend its hand to such abuse,” said Nahshon, who does not speak for Barak.
On May 31, 2010, Israeli forces raided a Gaza-bound flotilla of mainly Turkish activists, killing eight Turks and Doğan aboard the Mavi Marmara, the largest of the six vessels in the flotilla.
Another victim died last year following four years in a coma.
Doğan was a U.S. citizen born in New York who lived in Turkey with his parents.
A United Nations panel found the raid was “excessive and unreasonable,” but it also blamed Turkey.
The panel said Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza was legally imposed as a legitimate security measure to prevent weapons smuggling, but it added that the killing of the 10 activists was unacceptable.
The deaths caused a deterioration of once-close ties between Turkey and Israel, though the countries have been discussing reconciliation.
Attorneys for Doğan’s parents said Oct. 21 that they had been pursuing Barak for years to serve him with litigation, coming closest in France in 2010.
“It’s been an ongoing process ever since this happened to get accountability,” said Rodney Dixon, a London-based attorney in Los Angeles for the litigation. “It’s a major breakthrough.”
Dan Stormer, a Los Angeles attorney also working on the case, said Barak is a “war criminal who led a massacre,” and that Doğan’s family deserves justice.
Doğan’s parents have an uphill battle with the litigation, said Douglass Cassel, who teaches international human rights law and international criminal law at the University of Notre Dame.
“All down the line, the hurdles are daunting,” said Cassel, especially because a 2013 Supreme Court ruling imposed limits on the ability of foreigners to use American courts to seek accountability and monetary damages for human rights abuses.