Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Thursday night described as “scandalous” and “hypocritical” the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to re-open an investigation into alleged Israeli “war crimes” during the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.

In an unprecedented decision earlier on Thursday, the ICC judges decided to investigate the previously closed case, despite the fact that last year the court had rejected a request for an official investigation by the Comoros, an island nation in Africa under whose flag several of the ships sailed.

"The soldiers followed international law and defended themselves from violence by terrorists. We are fully backing the fighters, and we will fight to the bitter end against any attempt to harm them,” Ya’alon said in response to the decision.

"The attempts to smear the name of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, are political, cynical and unbearable," added the defense minister. "This march of folly is validated especially in light of the massacres that are occurring in our surroundings. It is the slanted activities of international bodies, in the name of 'laws' or 'human rights', against the State of Israel and its soldiers, that affect international law and order.”

The Marmara incident occurred when soldiers from the IDF's naval commando Shayetet 13 stormed the ship, part of a “humanitarian flotilla” to Gaza. The soldiers stormed the Marmara after the flotilla ignored repeated demands to stand down and have Israel deliver its supposed humanitarian goods to Gaza.

When IDF soldiers boarded the Marmara, they were attacked by Islamists wielding knives and metal bars and forced to open fire to defend themselves, killing ten Turkish assailants in the process.

Israeli authorities found the vessel wasn't carrying any humanitarian aid, indicating how the true goal of the provocative move was to open Gaza to free naval access, which it has consistently used to smuggle in weapons to be targeted against Israel.

Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu  condemned the ICC decision as well, noting, "IDF soldiers acted in self defense while stopping an attempt to break a blockade carried out in accordance with international law as determined by the committee appointed by the UN Secretary General, a committee headed by a Supreme Court judge and international observers."

And Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid described the ICC as “anti-Semitic” and “hypocritical”, saying the court ignored massacres in places such as Syria, Nigeria and Libya.