The International Criminal Court will not launch a prosecution over Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010 in which 10 Turkish activists died, despite a “reasonable basis to believe that war crimes were committed”.
Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the Hague-based ICC, on Thursday said that there would be no investigation leading to a potential prosecution because the alleged crimes, including the killing of 10 activists by Israeli commandos, were not of “sufficient gravity”.
“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,” Bensouda said in a statement.
“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.”
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.
“Taking into account the serious nature of the physical injuries caused by the IDF’s use of force against some affected passengers, and even bearing in mind self-defence … the information available provides for a reasonable basis to believe that the IDF soldiers committed [a] war crime,” Bensouda said.
Genesis of clash
Israel imposed its blockade on Gaza in 2006 after Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier, was seized there, who was eventually freed in 2011 in a trade for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
The blockade was strengthened in 2007, when Hamas took control of Gaza, then eased somewhat following an international outcry over the killing of the Turkish activists.
A Turkish court in May ordered the arrest of four former Israeli military chiefs over the raid as part of an ongoing trial in absentia brought by the Turkish group IHH and the victims’ families in 2012.
The assault led to widespread condemnation and provoked a major diplomatic crisis between the two countries.
Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador, demanded a formal apology and compensation and an end to the blockade on the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas.
An Israeli probe found that the raid did not violate international law, in a conclusion which Turkey said lacked credibility.