Human Rights Council endorses criticisms but does not call for a criminal investigation into raid on Turkish ship.
|Israeli commandos boarded the aid flotilla on its way to Gaza, killing nine Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara [AFP]|
Lawyers representing relatives of those who died in an Israel raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May have urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the The Hague to pursue those responsible.
Ugur Sevgili, one of the lawyers, on Thursday presented to the office of the ICC prosecutor a dossier with evidence, containing videos, photos, autopsy findings and a UN report condemning the incident.
“We believe war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed,” Sevgili told reporters in The Hague.
“The office of the prosecutor of the ICC has a duty to prosecute,” Sevgili said, adding that “we want to bring an end to impunity. We want to bring justice to the people of Palestine”.
On May 31, Israeli commandos boarded a flotilla of six humanitarian ships on their way to Gaza. Nine Turkish activists were killed on the lead ship Mavi Marmara, sparking international condemnation.
The ICC is the world’s only independent, permanent tribunal with jurisdiction to try genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Neither Israel nor Turkey is a signatory to the ICC’s founding Rome Statute, but Sevgili argued this should not affect jurisdiction.
“If there are war crimes there is jurisdiction and the ICC should act,” he said.
Ahmet Dogan, the father of 19-year-old Furkan Dogan who was killed in the assault, told reporters outside the court that “the people who committed this crime must be prosecuted.
“Like any normal person I want these people to be in jail.”
As a small group of picketers held up posters depicting the word “Humanity” riddled with bullet holes, Dogan said his son had “just wanted to help the people of Gaza, especially the children”.
The office of the prosecutor, who declined to comment on Thursday’s meeting, will now conduct a preliminary analysis to determine whether to launch a full probe.
That could take more than a year, Sevgili said.
New aid convoy
Meanwhile, a new aid convoy that is bound for the Gaza Strip has been given the green light by the Egyptian government to sail to the port of Al-Arish.
On Wednesday, the 400-member Viva Palestina convoy was also promised a free passage across the border into Gaza after it arrives in the Sinai port.
The Egyptian go-ahead came after a tense eight day stand-off and followed mediation by several countries including Syria to persuade the Egyptians to agree to the passage.
Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, who is travelling with the group, said that the convoy will board a cargo ship in the Syrian port of Letakia and sail to Al-Arish.
“The organisers are obviously delighted about the go-ahead; however, there are some reservations because the Egyptians might still have some conditions for the passage.
“The Egyptians might not allow George Galloway, the leader of the convoy, to set foot on Egyptian soil,” our correspondent said from Syria.
Organisers say the convoy of 148 vehicles is carrying more than $5m worth of medication, school equipment and aid.
The group comprises activists from more than 30 countries including New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritania, the US, Morocco and South Africa.
Several politicians and elected officials have joined the convoy as well as almost 30 survivors from the May 31 Israeli commando raid on the the flotilla.
Israel has imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip since June 2007 after the Palestinian group Hamas took control of the territory.
Though the Israeli restrictions have been eased, construction materials remain heavily restricted, Gazans have very limited freedom of movement, and Israel still enforces a naval blockade on the territory.