Activists who were part of the humanitarian aid flotilla that attempted to break through the Gaza blockade in 2010, have welcomed a ruling by the International Criminal Court (ICC) surrounding the case of the Mavi Marmara vessel. Following a referral from the island nation of Comoros, the ICC declared Israel guilty of ‘war crimes’, in relation to a raid by Israeli naval commandos that led to the death of nine Turkish activists.
The declaration was announced by the Turkish based IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation on Tuesday, following a preliminary examination by the ICC into the incident. The Mavi Marmara was one of the key vessels that took part in the flotilla, which was aimed at sailing through Israel’s blockade of the Gaza strip in order to provide aid to those in the conflict-stricken region. The ship was officially registered under the flag of the Comoros, meaning any attack on the ship was an indirect resistance against the tiny Island nation.
The ruling was welcomed by the Palestine Solidarity Alliances’ (PSA), Ismail Moola, who declared it a significant and strategic victory that would impact the way the world viewed the incident. He also recognized the role of the Comoros, who had chosen to institute legal action towards the ICC based on the Rome Statute.
Moola detailed some of the declarations made, as part of the ICC’s ruling.
“It pronounced that it was a voluntary manslaughter with the intention to create willful bodily harm, incomparable with human dignity. It accepted that Israel’s position as an occupier, and therefore it had a right to protect the inhabitants (of the vessel). It also noted that all activists on board were civilians, and it acknowledges that Israel were aware of this,” he explained.
Furthermore, he said the ICC had also declared the Israeli narrative of self-defense “not worthy of discussion”, based purely on the manner in which the victims were shot.
Despite the positive pronouncements made by the ICC, he was critical of their decision to take the matter any further. This was because it deemed that under the Rome Statute, legal process would first need to be taken within the country of complaint, before it could be addressed by the ICC.
“Sadly the ICC feels it is not within its jurisdiction to take the process to court. So we are hoping the representatives of the Comoros will maybe challenge this ruling,” he said.
“The other thing the ICC is saying is that although nine people may have lost their lives, it wasn’t a mass kind of catastrophe. Therefore they feel it should still be held in a local kind of jurisdiction.”
Moola said they would have hoped that the ICC would personally take the process forward, in order to bring those responsible to book. However, he was confident the Comoros would not simply accept such a ruling, and would take the issue further.
“Let’s hope the Comoros will appeal this interpretation, and maybe there can be some hope going forward,” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)