Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is being sued in the United States over his nation's deadly raid of six Turkish boats trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza in 2010, an event that still affects relations between Turkey and Israel.
The Turkish parents of 19-year-old Furkan Dogan, among nine killed in the raid, sued Barak in federal court in Los Angeles on October 16, claiming unlawful death and torture.
Barak, Israel's defence minister at the time of the raid, was served with the papers on Tuesday 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 Dogan aboard the Mavi Marmara, the largest of the six vessels in the flotilla.
Dogan was a US 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.
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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 nine activists was unacceptable.
The deaths deteriorated once-close ties between Turkey and Israel, though the countries have been discussing reconciliation in recent months.
Attorneys for Dogan's parents said on Wednesday that they have 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 lawyer in Los Angeles for the litigation. "It's a major breakthrough."
Source: Associated Press