International lawmakers and experts on Tuesday slammed the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) refusal to open an investigation into Israel’s deadly 2010 raid on a flotilla carrying aid to the besieged Gaza strip, criticising the court’s case selection policies.
“Israeli crimes are being met with silence from the international community”, said Mohammed Jamil, the director of the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR), which hosted an event entitled ‘Time for the ICC to Act for Justice in Palestine’.
Early in December, the ICC decided, for the third time, that it will not open an investigation into crimes committed by Israeli commandos against the Mavi Marmara flotilla.
“The crimes committed in Palestine needs a court similar to the court that was established to investigate crimes in Yugoslavia and Croatia,” Jamil said.
Nine Turkish citizens were killed by Israeli marines who had stormed the Mavi Marmara – a Comoros-registered ship among eight ships trying to break an Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip – on 31 May 2010.
Another crew member died in hospital in 2014 as a result of wounds sustained during the raid.
William Schabas, professor of International Law at Middlesex University, said on Tuesday that there is a problem with the selection process at the ICC, where the majority of the cases being investigated are African except for the Palestinian case, which has not been picked up yet by the court.
“The ICC was set up to deal with the burning issues of our time, such as Palestine,” Schabas said.
Schabas added that while some say an ICC formal investigation against Israel will lead to tensions with Washington, he believes that the case would only strengthen the court.
The group of experts said in a statement that Bensouda has received substantial evidence and documentation of war crimes committed by Israel against Palestinian civilians, giving her a firm basis to open a formal investigation.
Baroness Helena Kennedy, member of the House of Lords, called on Bensouda to take that step before her term ends as ICC general prosecutor.
After nearly ten years of considering the case and five years of preliminary investigation, no conclusion was reached by Fatou Bensouda, the ICC’s prosecutor.
In 2014, Bensouda concluded that the case – in which 10 people were killed – was “not of sufficient gravity” to prosecute Israel over, meaning that it could be settled as inadmissible before the ICC.
In September, Bensouda was asked by the ICC to reconsider her previous refusals to formally probe the incident, but she refused, repeating her claim that “there is not a reasonable basis to proceed”.
The incident led to strained ties between Israel and Turkey. The two countries agreed to normalise relations after holding long-running secret talks in third countries, with Israel offering an apology over the raid and $20m in compensation.
Israel also agreed to allow Turkish aid to reach Gaza as part of the agreement.
Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006 whose results were heavily contested by the Palestinian Authority, dominated by the Fatah party. Tensions between the two political parties led to a near civil war in 2007, in which Hamas wrest control of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank-based PA.
Since 2007, Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza, upheld by Egypt leading to dire and deteriorating living conditions in the small coastal enclave.
Source: Middle East Eye.