ICC to Reconsider Decision to Close Gaza Flotilla Case Against Israel

In 2010, Israel Navy troops boarded ships that made up a flotilla from Turkey; in ensuing clashes nine people died and dozens of activists were wounded

File photo: Human rights group's ship Mavi Marmara, as it sets sail from Turkey carrying aid and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists to the blockaded Gaza Strip, May 22, 2010.
AP

Appeals judges have ordered the International Criminal Court's prosecutor to reconsider again her refusal to open a formal investigation into the 2010 storming by Israeli forces of an aid flotilla heading to the Gaza strip.

Presiding Judge Solomy Bossa on Monday ordered Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to decide whether or not to open a formal probe by December 2, 2019. The ruling is the latest step in a long legal battle to bring the case before the court.

Bensouda earlier declined a request by the Indian Ocean island nation of Comoros to investigate the May 31, 2010 storming of a vessel in the flotilla, which was sailing under a Comoros flag.

Israel is not a member state of the court but its nationals could face charges if Bensouda opens an investigation.

In 2010, Israel Navy troops boarded half a dozen ships that made up a flotilla headed from Turkey for the Gaza Strip. The six-vessel convoy had the intent of breaking through a comprehensive blockade Israel had placed on the coastal territory.

The navy took control of five of the ships without incident, but resistance by activists on the sixth vessel led to clashes that claimed the lives of nine of the boat's passengers, and left dozens of activists and soldiers wounded.

Israel had requested that the flotilla turn off its course, and head for the Israeli port of Ashdod, where the aid it was carrying could be transferred via land to Gaza. This was rejected by the flotilla, leading Israel to dispatch its troops to intercept the ships before they reached Gaza.

The action was condemned internationally, in particular by Turkey, which recalled its ambassador and branded Israel a "terrorist state."