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ICC Launches Probe into Marmara Incident

The International Criminal Court has opened a preliminary probe into Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 5/14/2013, 10:07 PM

Mavi Marmara
Mavi Marmara
Defense Ministry Spokesperson

The International Criminal Court has opened a preliminary probe into Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010, the prosecutor's office said Tuesday, according to AFP.

"My office will be conducting a preliminary examination in order to establish whether the criteria for opening an investigation are met," Fatou Bensouda said in a statement issued from the court based in The Hague.

Nine Turks died when Israeli commandos staged a raid on a six-ship flotilla seeking to violate Israel's naval blockade of Gaza on May 31, 2010.

The nine died on the Mavi Marmara, which refused Israeli orders to dock at the Ashdod Port. When the ship refused, the commandos boarded it, encountering violence from the members of the IHH organization who were on board and who attacked them with clubs and knives. The soldiers had no choice but to open fire.

Bensouda said she had met Istanbul-based lawyers who are acting for the government of the Comoros, which referred the case to her office, reported AFP.

The ship on which the activists sailed was registered in the Indian Ocean island country, which has been a state party to the ICC since 2006.

"After careful analysis of all available information, I shall make a determination that will be made public in due course," Bensouda said.

If Bensouda believes she had enough evidence, she may then approach judges for the go-ahead to open a full investigation which could lead to a future trial, noted AFP.

Lawyers in their 17-page submission said the attack on the flotilla had "serious international repercussions" and that the ICC was seen as an
institution to "provide a remedy for redress."

They added that the actions of the IDF "were manifestations of a plan or policy to use violence to dissuade the humanitarian flotillas to directly reach a blockaded Gaza."

"The IDF attack on the flotilla -- charged with bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza resulted in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity falling within the ambit of the ICC's... jurisdiction," the lawyers said, according to AFP.

After the incident on the Marmara, Israel discovered that no humanitarian aid whatsoever was on it.

Turkey cut off its ties with Israel following the Marmara incident, but Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently apologized to his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for the deaths of the nine Turks.

Netanyahu, in addition to the apology, agreed to compensate the families of the nine Turks, while Erdogan promised to cancel the legal proceedings his country launched against IDF officials.

Israeli and Turkish officials have began talking about compensation for the victims of the Marmara incident, and Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister recently indicated that progress had been made in the talks.

The United Nation's 105-page Palmer Report has already concluded that Israel's naval blockade of Hamas in Gaza is both reasonable and legal, and that the IHH members had lain in wait for the commandos.

An Israeli panel, the Turkel Commission, also concluded that the IDF acted in self-defense against the IHH terrorists on the Mavi Marmara boat.

The panel was headed by retired High Court Justice Yaakov Turkel and included two foreign observers, Brig. Gen. Ken Watkin of Canada and Lord David Trimble of Northern Ireland.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of the Shavuot holiday in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)