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Families of Israeli flotilla raid victims request formal ICC investigation

Family members of Turkish activists killed during Israel's raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla [JURIST news archive] in May have sent a request to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] for a formal investigation into the incident. The families submitted the request on behalf of nine Turkish activists and one American activist who were killed during the raid [Guardian report] on the Mavi Marmara, one of the ships traveling in the flotilla. In a letter to ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile], the families held that there is overwhelming evidence of international law violations and urged the prosecution of those responsible. According to a report [text, PDF] released [JURIST report] in September by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website], Israeli forces committed several international law violations during the raid, including violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Fourth Geneva Convention [texts]. A spokesperson for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs [official website] responded to the report [press release] by calling the mission's approach "biased, politicized and extremist." The spokesperson indicated that Israel will not cooperate with the commission, but will "read and study the report." Although Israel and the Palestinian territories are not party to the Rome Statute [text], lawyers for the victims say that court has jurisdiction due to the involvement of Turkey and the fact that the Mavi Marmara was sailing under the flag of the Comoros Islands.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry [official website] recently submitted findings from its own investigation [JURIST report] to the UNHRC for consideration in the report. In July, an Israeli military probe into the incident found insufficient intelligence and planning of the raid, but concluded that no punishments were necessary [JURIST report]. Israel also established a civilian commission [JURIST report] in June to investigate its response. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [official website] testified before the civilian commission [JURIST report] in August and expressed confidence that the commission would find Israeli actions to be in compliance with international law, explaining the Israeli response to the flotilla in the context of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The incident took place on May 31 when Israeli forces raided six ships attempting to deliver more than 10,000 tons of aid to Gaza.

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