Four flotilla activists have filed a suit against Israel in a US federal court, seeking damages for injuries they say they sustained during a 2010 Israeli raid on a boat bound for besieged Gaza Strip.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the civil case, who include three Americans and one Belgian national, said on Tuesday that because the ship was flying a US flag, US laws should apply on board.
“We are arguing that this US-flagged vessel is the United States and therefore the injuries inflicted by the Israeli Defence Forces on the ship were inflicted in the United States,” Steven Schneebaum, US Counsel for the plaintiffs, said.
The 2010 military raid on the aid convoy killed 10 Turkish activists when Israeli commandos climbed down from helicopters on to six ships bringing what they said were essential supplies to Gaza’s population.
Nine Turks were shot dead in the May 31, 2010, clash when Israeli marines stormed a flotilla organised by a Turkish charity, which ignored orders to turn back as it tried to breach an Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Another Turk later died from wounds suffered in the attack.
Israel said the flotilla’s crew had been warned repeatedly before the raid.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, apologised in 2013 to Turkey for errors that might have led to the deaths of the Turkish activists.
Huwaida Arraf, a dual US and Israeli national, was on board a US boat named Challenger 1, which was part of the flotilla trying to deliver humanitarian aid in circumvention of Israel’s blockade of Gaza.
Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip more than a decade ago, but it continues to control all aspects of life in the Palestinian territory, deciding who can enter or leave.
In 2010, a UN envoy said Gaza was the world’s biggest open prison and called for an end to collective punishment of Palestinians.
Arraf said that she tried to communicate with Israeli soldiers as they boarded the boat.
“We are on an American ship. This is an American boat. Stay away from us. They threw grenades on our boat to startle everybody and they were shooting something – a projectile that hit one of my colleagues face.
“… I was knocked down and then my head was slammed into the deck of the boat,” she said in an interview with Reuters news agency after she and case lawyers announced the court filing on Tuesday.
Israel is expected to answer the complaint within 60 days of its filing.
Exact compensation being sought in the case has not been released.
In a related case, relatives of a 19-year-old US citizen killed in Israel’s 2010 storming of the flotilla are suing Ehud Barak, the former Israeli prime minister for the raid. Al Jazeera