Flotilla Victims' Families to International Criminal Court: Prosecute Israel

Turkish lawyers petition the ICC to examine IDF 'war crimes' during clashes aboard Turkish aid ship Mavi Marmara, which resulted in 9 dead, on May 31.

The families of the victims of the May 31 clashes aboard the Turkish Gaza-bound aid ship Mavi Marmara have petition the International Criminal Court in Hague to prosecute Israeli soldiers, the Guardian reported Friday.

Israeli navy commandos killed nine Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara, one of several ships taking part in a Turkish-backed aid flotilla aiming to violate Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Dozens of activists, as well as Israeli troops, were injured during the clashes.

flotilla - AP - September 28 2010

Lawyers representing the Turkish activists wrote to the world criminal court that they have definitive evidence of Israeli crimes, as well as professional opinions composed by internationally acclaimed legal experts. 

"The attack on the flotilla occurred in international waters, which directly violated many parts of international law as well as international public and criminal law," said Ramazan Ariturk, a partner at Elmadag Law Office, the Turkish legal body that is representing the Turkish victims and the human rights group IHH. "The crimes committed by the Israel Defense Forces must be prosecuted and the International Criminal Court is the sole authority which is able to do that."

The Turkish lawyers wrote that it was within the jurisdiction of the international court to prosecute those responsible for the flotilla incident, even though Israel and the Palestinian Authority do not recognize the court's authority.

The lawyers argue that the fact that Turkey was involved in the incident and that the Mavi Marmara sailed under a Comoro Islands flag grant the court the jurisdiction to investigate the incident, since those states are themselves signatories of the Rome Statute, which established the court.

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted the conclusions arrived at by the committee that it appointed to investigate the events surrounding the flotilla. Thirty nations voted to accept the conclusions of the report, fifteen states abstained, and the United States opposed.

According to the UN report, Israel violated international law and the human rights of the activists on board the ship when they took over the Mavi Marmara.

The Human Rights Commission concluded that Israel's siege on Gaza is illegal because of the humanitarian crisis for Gaza residents and called  the IDF attack on the flotilla "brutal and disproportionate."