• IDF forces had been informed prior to their mission that all flotilla passengers were non-combatant civilians, but that didn’t stop them from murdering innocent gentiles.
By Ronald L. Ray —
On May 31, 2010, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) attacked the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla,” which was on the high seas en route from Turkey in a peaceful attempt to break the Israeli naval blockade of the beleaguered Gaza Strip and bring humanitarian relief to suffering Palestinians.
During the Israeli raid, 10 people were killed from multiple gunshot wounds inflicted by IDF soldiers. At least one received an “execution shot” to the back of the head. Five were shot point-blank in the head. One person who was killed was shot in the forehead while taking photos, and another, who survived, was filming with a video camera when he was shot. IDF forces had been informed prior to their mission that all flotilla passengers were non-combatant civilians, but that didn’t stop them from firing at the unarmed people.
AMERICAN FREE PRESS covered the flotilla and subsequent raid, interviewing people on-board the Mavi Marmara.
On May 14, 2013, the Union of the Comoros, a state party to the Rome Statute, filed in the International Criminal Court (ICC) charges of war crimes by Israel in the raids on the Freedom Flotilla’s ships. One ship that faced the worst attack, the Mavi Marmara, was registered in the Comoros. The complaint additionally encompassed a Greek ship and a Cambodian-registered ship, the Rachel Corrie, which was seized on June 5, 2010.
On November 6, Fatou B. Bensouda of Gambia, the chief prosecutor of the ICC, determined that “there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court were committed on one of the vessels, the Mavi Marmara.”
Ms. Bensouda previously asserted that no investigation could be made into the IDF’s barbarous behavior without legal jurisdiction over at least one of the states involved in the event. Israel and its sycophantic satellite, the United States, have refused to accept the Rome Statute, which establishes ICC jurisdiction over allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.
In the initial stage, the prosecutor was dependent upon public reports and evidence submitted by the parties, with no authority for further investigation. While Comoros provided supplemental information, Israel did not when invited to do so.
Some would call the results of the examination mixed, but the prosecutor suggested this was due to the unresolvable conflicting nature of claims from the IDF and flotilla participants, as well as the limits of the ICC mandate. Nevertheless, the conclusions about Israeli brutality are striking.
Paragraph 19 of the report states:
“Ultimately, in the office’s assessment, the information available indicates that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes were committed on board the Mavi Marmara during the interception of the flotilla on 31 May 2010 in the context of an international armed conflict, namely: (1) willful killing pursuant to article 8(2)(a)(i); (2) willfully causing serious injury to body and health pursuant to article 8(2)(a)(iii); and (3) committing outrages upon personal dignity pursuant to article 8(2)(b)(xxi) of the statute. In addition, if Israel’s naval blockade against Gaza was unlawful, there is consequently also a reasonable basis to believe that the IDF committed the crime of intentionally directing an attack against two civilian objects pursuant to article 8(2)(b)(ii) in relation to the Mavi Marmara and the Eleftheri Mesogios/Sofia.”
According to international law, civilian non-combatants enjoy protected status against aggression by belligerent states. Although some persons on the Mavi Marmara allegedly gave violent resistance to Israeli seizure efforts, the ICC prosecutor determined that this was not on behalf of Hamas or Palestine, but essentially defense of the ship and its humanitarian and political mission. Consequently, IDF attacks appeared to constitute war crimes.
Other allegations of war crimes were also deemed to have a “reasonable basis.” Forty-eight individuals were injured, many gravely, and even after attempts to surrender. Some “passengers were subjected to continued violence after being wounded such as being hit with the butt of a weapon and being kicked in the head, chest and back.” Some were subjected to degrading and humiliating treatment during transport to Israel. One “kneeling passenger who tried to move away from urine coming down from his neighbor had his face pressed down into the puddle.”
Ms. Bensouda deplored other, more serious war crimes being committed by Israelis in Palestine but stated the ICC presently has no jurisdiction there. She concluded that, although war crimes apparently were committed on the Mavi Marmara, they are “not . . . of sufficient gravity to justify further action by the court.” She did not wish to minimize the harm done but believed the crimes did not reach the Rome Statute’s threshold for prosecution. That decision is subject to revision if new information becomes available.
Comoros’s ambassador to the United Nations and America was unavailable for comment to this newspaper, but, according to RT.com, Ramazan Ariturk, a lawyer for Comoros, has promised to appeal: “This is a moral struggle that we’re pursuing by ourselves. It’s a legal struggle; a struggle in the name of humanity. This struggle isn’t over. . . .We will object to a higher court at the [ICC] and we believe without a doubt that we will prevail.”
Ronald L. Ray is a freelance author and an assistant editor of THE BARNES REVIEW. He is a descendant of several patriots of the American War for Independence.