British Activists Seek to Sue Israel Over Flotilla ‘War Crimes’

January 5, 2015  

A group of British activists are looking into the possibility of suing Israeli soldiers for alleged “war crimes” committed during the 2010 flotilla to Gaza, the Independent reported Sunday.

Scotland Yard has been asked to investigate whether Israeli special forces who raided the ships in the flotilla committed war crimes. Lawyers acting for British activists have launched legal proceedings in the hope of prosecuting the Israeli soldiers in the UK, the report said.

The biggest ship in the flotilla was the Mavi Marmara, which claimed to be providing “humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza.”

The ship defied orders to turn around and dock at the Ashdod port. After it ignored repeated warnings to change course, the IDF boarded the vessel, only to be attacked by the Islamist extremists on board.

The soldiers had no choice but to open fire, resulting in the deaths of nine activists for the Turkish IHH group who were on board.

After an investigation, Israeli authorities discovered the vessel to be carrying no humanitarian aid – in fact, no aid supplies at all – whatsoever. 

According to the Independent, evidence passed to the Metropolitan Police names five Israeli military commanders alleged to have committed war crimes when the troops they commanded stormed the flotilla in May 2010.

Lawyers representing 13 of the 34 Britons on the Mavi Marmara say some of the commanders had visited Britain since the incident and said the police now had evidence which should result in their arrest if they return.

Identical legislation was used to arrest the Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet in the UK in 1998, noted the Independent.

One of the Britons on board the Marmara, 42-year-old Alexandra Lort Phillips, from Hackney, east London, said, “We were volunteers, not a disciplined group and the soldiers were attacking us in formation. I saw one of my Turkish friends lying there. I thought he was injured. It didn’t cross my mind that he had been shot in the forehead and killed instantly. I can understand why some of those board reacted violently but you never hear about how some of the soldiers captured were treated very fairly. All the world saw was the IDF footage they wanted everyone to see because all our footage was taken.”

The United Nation’s 105-page Palmer Report has already concluded that Israel’s naval blockade of Hamas in Gaza is both reasonable and legal, and that the passengers on the boat had lain in wait for the commandos.

An Israeli panel, the Turkel Commission, also concluded that the IDF acted in self-defense against the terrorists on the Mavi Marmara.

In November, the International Criminal Court decided against investigating Israel over the Mavi Marmara incident, saying that while international prosecutors believe Israeli soldiers may have committed war crimes during the raid that killed nine Turkish activists, they have decided the case is beyond their remit.

The court has no jurisdiction over crimes in Turkey or Israel, since neither is a member of the court. However, the Mavi Marmara was registered to the Comoros Islands, which referred the raid to the court, leaving prosecutors no choice under the court’s statute but to begin a preliminary examination.

Rodney Dixon, representing the 13 Britons as well as other passengers on board, told the Independent, “It is not possible to extradite the Israeli commanders allegedly responsible, but if they travel here and the police have sufficient evidence, they could arrest them and they can be prosecuted here. Some have travelled to the UK before and we’ve provided that information and have asked the police to monitor the situation. At this stage we have filed the complaint with the police and requested they work as quickly as possible.”

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