The International Criminal Court (ICC) is to launch a primary investigation into Israel’s murderous attack on the humanitarian Freedom Flotilla in May 2010. The convoy of ships was in international waters en route to the Gaza Strip at the time of the assault. The news of the investigation was announced by ICC law prosecutor and legal adviser Fatou Bensouda on Monday.
The Flotilla was aiming to break the Israeli-led siege imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2006. Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists and wounded dozens of other passengers on the ships.
In a statement, Bensouda said that it is necessary to open a primary investigation after she had received a complaint filed by the Comoros Islands, where one of the flotilla ships was registered. “My office will see whether the criteria to open an investigation into the case have been fulfilled,” she said. A Turkish advocate is acting as the mediator between the Comoros and the ICC in the case.
Interestingly, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç announced recently that an agreement with Israel on the Flotilla issue guarantees that no prosecutions of Israeli citizens or the government will proceed. Ongoing Turkey-Israel talks to settle the issue have agreed that Israel is going to pay compensation to the families of the Flotilla victims in return for the withdrawal of all complaints against the state.
Sources close to the families of the Turkish victims said that they are determined to press for the prosecution of those Israelis responsible for the attack on the Flotilla. Although they do not mind contacts and discussions with the Israeli government, a representative of one victim’s family said that they cannot accept any cancellation of legal measures against the perpetrators. “We do not understand how they can talk about compensation while Israeli is still imposing the siege on the Gaza Strip,” he added.