The International Criminal Court in Hague on Thursday announced it would not pursue the prosecution of Israel over the 2010 IDF raid on a Turkish-financed flotilla that was attempting to crash through the naval blockade Israel had imposed on Gaza when Hamas took over the Strip in 2007.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s most recent investigation reviewed more than 5,000 pages of documents and more than 300 statements from passengers, only to reaffirm her previous decision not to investigate, concluding that the incident wasn’t serious enough to merit ICC involvement.
Prosecutor Bensouda said in a statement: “I have ultimately decided to reaffirm my previous decision of November 6, 2014,” in which she ruled that the raid was “not of sufficient gravity.”
Declaring that the flotilla was a provocation and a media stunt, the Israeli government on May 31, 2010, sent naval commandos to board the ships from speedboats and helicopters, and force them into the port of Ashdod for inspection. On the Turkish ship MV Mavi Marmara, the Israeli force faced violent resistance from some 40 “hardcore” activists, armed with iron bars and knives. During the confrontation that ensued as Israeli boarders were coming down one at a time from a helicopter, nine activists were killed, including eight Turkish nationals and one Turkish American, and many were wounded. Another activist died of his wounds four years later. Ten IDF commandos were also wounded, one of them seriously.
Despite her decision not to prosecute, Bensouda insisted: “My conclusion remains that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes were committed by some members of the Israel Defense Forces.”
A NY Times editorial a month after the event stated in restrained language: “At least some of the activists on the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara, were seeking a confrontation – and got one.”
The editorial continued: “Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is a vocal opponent of the blockade. When Israel asked Ankara to stop the ship, Mr. Erdogan’s government said it could not interfere because the ship was sailing under the auspices of a private group. Did Turkey even warn the activists that picking a fight was a stupid idea?”