International court prosecutor to reconsider probing Israel’s deadly Gaza flotilla raid

International court prosecutor to reconsider probing Israel’s deadly Gaza flotilla raid

THE HAUGE - Agence France-Presse
International court prosecutor to reconsider probing Israel’s deadly Gaza flotilla raid

Palestinians wave their national flag as they ride boats during a rally in support of activists aboard a Pro-Gaza flotilla made up of four boats aimed at defying Israel's blockade of Gaza, at the seaport of Gaza City on June 28, 2015. AFP Photo

The International Criminal Court (ICC) ordered July 16 its chief prosecutor to review a decision not to probe Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010, saying “errors were made.”

Fatou Bensouda late last year dropped the investigation leading to potential prosecution into the incident in which 10 Turkish activists were killed by Israeli commandos, saying the incident was “not of sufficient gravity.”

The case was first filed by the Comoros, where the activists’ ship the Mavi Marmara was registered.

The tiny Indian Ocean island state in January asked the Hague-based ICC’s judges to review Bensouda’s decision.

“The Pre-Trial Chamber granted the request... and requested the prosecutor to reconsider such a decision,” the ICC said in a statement.

Nine Turkish nationals died when Israeli commandos staged a botched pre-dawn raid on a six-ship flotilla seeking to bust Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010. A tenth activist later died of his wounds. The incident triggered a large diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel that still lingers. 

In her explanation in November last year, Bensouda said “the information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes were committed on board the Comorian-registered vessel the Mavi Marmara during the interception of the flotilla.”

“However, after carefully assessing all relevant considerations, I have concluded that the potential case[s] likely arising from an investigation into this incident would not be of ‘sufficient gravity’ to justify further action by the ICC,” she said.

But the ICC’s judges disagreed.

“The prosecutor committed material errors in her determination of the gravity of the potential case(s),” the judges said.

“In particular, the Chamber identified material errors in the Prosecutor’s assessment of the possibility to prosecute those persons who may bear the greatest responsibility for the identified crimes committed during the seizure of the Mavi Marmara.”

Bensouda must now reconsider her decision “as soon as possible and shall notify the Chamber, the Comoros and the victims... of her conclusion and the reasons for it,” the judges said.

Israel imposed its blockade on Gaza in 2006 after Hamas captured an Israeli soldier, and tightened it a year later when the Islamist movement consolidated control of the territory.

A number of flotillas had reached Gaza prior to the May 2010 attempt.

Since then, several ships manned by pro-Palestinian activists have tried to reach the shores of Gaza, but they have all been repelled by the Israeli navy.