Crimes (or maybe not) of the High Sea

The Associated Press

In May of 2010, six civilian ships apart of the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” were raided in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea by the Israeli Navy. The Israeli Navy had a blockade on Gaza and the Gaza Freedom Flotilla intended to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip. The Flotilla was organized by the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH). The ships were carrying humanitarian aide and construction materials for the people affected by the blockade.

The raid occurred on the lead ship, the MV Mavi Marmara, which is a Turkish ship. The Israeli government contested that the ships were provocation or a media stunt and that Israeli Naval Commandos faced resistance from 40 to 590 passengers, including members of IHH who were deemed by Israeli reports as a “separate, hardcore group”. After the Israeli Commandos boarded the Flotilla,  8 Turkish Nationals were killed as well as 1 Turkish-American killed, and ten Israeli commandos injured.

Flash foward to present time. On November 6, 2014, the Prosecutor of International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, had decided that Israel may have committed war crimes, but the crimes were not grave enough to merit a possible prosecution in the ICC. Bensouda said, “Without in any way minimizing the impact of the alleged crimes on the victims and their families, I have to be guided by the Rome Statute, in accordance with which, the ICC shall prioritize war crimes committed on a large scale or pursuant to a plan or policy”. (Associated Press) Prosecutors in the report believe there is a reasonable basis that Israeli forces may have committed the crimes of willful killing, willfully causing an injury and outrages upon personal dignity.

The case got to the ICC after the tiny African state of Comoros, (the Mavi Marmara was flying under the Comoros Flag and member of the ICC) filed a complaint last year. Israel and Turkey are not subject to the ICC’s jurisdiction because they are not members of the ICC. However, the case could be referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council (United States, Russia, France, United Kingdom, and China) if the nation’s are not members. After voicing displeasure about the dropping of the claim, attorney Ramazan Ariturk said that the struggle and the fight is not over.

It is worth noting that a report filed by the United Nations in July 2011 found that Israel’s raid was justified, but they used excessive force.

What do you think? Did the ICC make the correct decision? Did Israel commit war crimes at all? What do you think will happen next since the Turkish groups will not give up the fight?


The Associated Press



U.S. News & World Report


AP Photo/Free Gaza Movement

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