Tuesday 3 September 2019 - 07:55

ICC judges order prosecutor to reopen case of Israel raid on Gaza flotilla

Story Code : 814221
Turkish ship Mavi Marmara taking part in the Freedom Flotilla heading towards the Gaza Strip
Turkish ship Mavi Marmara taking part in the Freedom Flotilla heading towards the Gaza Strip
Appeals judges in The Hague-based tribunal ordered Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda for a second time on Monday to reconsider her refusal to open a formal investigation into the deadly raid.

"The prosecutor is directed to reconsider her decision by December 2, 2019," presiding appeals Judge Solomy Balungi Bossa told the court, adding that a majority of judges had backed the move.

The Monday ruling by the ICC’s appeals chamber was the latest step in a long legal battle to bring the case before the court.

Bensouda said in 2014 that she would not prosecute Israel over the incident, claiming that the case was "not of sufficient gravity."

The chief prosecutor again affirmed the decision in 2017 after judges said she must take another look at the case.

Israel is not a member of the court but Israeli individuals could face charges if Bensouda opens an investigation.

On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos attacked the Freedom Flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea, killing nine Turkish citizens, including a teenager with dual Turkish-US citizenship, on board the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara and injuring about 50 other people who were part of the team on the six-ship convoy.

The flotilla was attempting to break the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, carrying aid to Palestinians in the enclave.

Israel’s military raid against the civilian flotilla was met with global condemnation at the time, with the United Nations Security Council calling for a prompt investigation into the incident and the United Nations Human Rights Council describing the attack as “outrageous.”

A large number of human rights groups also slammed the raid, while dozens of protests were held in support of the victims’ cause in several countries, including Turkey, Indonesia, Lebanon, and Sweden.

In September 2010, Turkey suspended its military ties with Israel and expelled the Israeli envoy from Ankara over Tel Aviv’s refusal to apologize for the killing.

Back in 2014, a criminal court in Turkey issued arrest warrants for four Israeli military officers, deemed by Ankara as the main culprits in the case, and turned over the warrants to Interpol to arrest the suspects, but to no avail.

Turkey and Israel, however, normalized relations in June 2016 after a series of not very public negotiations. An agreement to normalize the ties entailed the payment of $20 million in compensation for the families of the victims.