ICC: Israel Guilty of War Crimes but... Nevermind
November 11, 2014
Gordon Duff / PressTV & Al-Akhbar & TeleSur TV
Prosecutors of the International Criminal Court at The Hague have ruled that Israel was guilty of "war crimes" for attacking a Turkish aid ship for Gaza in 2010 and killing nine peaceful activists, including an American citizen, in international water. But, although the ICC determined that though Israel is "most likely guilty of war crimes" in their attack on an unarmed aid convoy, court refused to move forward stating the crimes "would not be of 'sufficient gravity' to justify further action by the ICC."
Israeli Attack on the Mavi Marmara, May 31st 2010 // 15 min. from Caipirinha Productions on Vimeo.
Israeli Attack on the Mavi Marmara,
May 31st 2010. 15 minutes
In the predawn hours of May 31, 2010, showing a terrifying disregard for human life, Israeli naval forces surrounded and boarded ships sailing to bring humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip. On the largest ship, the Mavi Marmara, Israeli commandos opened fire on civilian passengers, killing at least 9 passengers and wounding dozens more. Others are still missing. The final death toll is yet to be determined.
Cultures of Resistance director Iara Lee was aboard the besieged ship and has since returned home safely. Despite the Israeli government's thorough efforts to confiscate all footage taken during the attack, Iara Lee and director of photography Srdjan Stojilijkovic were able to retain some of her recordings. Above is 15 minutes of footage from the moments leading up to and during the Israeli commandos’ assault on the Mavi Marmara.
ICC Cites Israeli War Crime Guilt
But 'Too Busy' to Prosecute
Gordon Duff / PressTV
(November 11, 2014) -- Today, the ICC decided that though Israel is "most likely guilty of war crimes" in their attack on an unarmed aid convoy in 2010, the International Criminal Court refuses to move forward.
An examination of the ICC and its new Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda brings another point to light. The ICC itself continues to be fully complicit in the crimes it was set up to prevent.
In a move, outlandish, outrageous and certainly a precedent for disenfranchisement for the International Criminal Court, the ICC has decided not to prosecute Israel.
This time it is for the execution of 9 journalists and activists on the Mavi Marmara, part of the Gaza Flotilla carrying medical supplies to that encircled bastion.
It isn't that the ICC doesn't recognize this as a war crime, in fact quite the opposite. The ICC was very clear, there was no question of Israel's guilt in an action that was not only a war crime but violation of maritime rules as well, an act of piracy only a few miles away from the same area where Israel attacked the USS Liberty, killing or wounding 201 American naval personnel in 1967.
From CNN: The International Criminal Court will not prosecute Israel for a May 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship that left eight Turks and an American dead, even though there's reason to believe war crimes were committed, a prosecutor with the Netherlands-based court said Thursday.
While conceding that war crimes may have been committed in the botched raid, the potential cases "would not be of 'sufficient gravity' to justify further action by the ICC," prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said.
"In the final analysis, I have, therefore, concluded that the legal requirements under the Rome Statute to open an investigation have not been met and I am announcing that the preliminary examination has been closed," Bensouda said.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, the Gambian born and Nigerian trained wife of a Moroccan businessman with strong ties to both Israel and the United States, has never considered a case outside of Africa.
Professor Kevin Jon Heller at the University of London cites Bensouda's history of inaction.
From an article in the Toronto Star, dated October 13, 2014:
"That there is no formal investigation outside Africa is 'absolutely unconscionable,' says Kevin Jon Heller, professor of criminal law at the University of London's school of Oriental and African studies.
'It makes no legal sense, it makes even less political sense,' he says. 'That I think you could put squarely at the feet of Fatou Bensouda because she's had three years to investigate in Colombia, or Afghanistan or Georgia, or somewhere. The only situations worth investigating are not only in Africa.'"
The timing of Bensouda's announcement is, in itself, curious. Israel has, over the past few months, engaged in a pattern of criminality at an unprecedented pace, even bombing United Nations facilities in Gaza, using precision guided munitions supplied by the United States.
Since the Gaza attacks, killing thousands including 570 children, Israel has seized religious shrines and engaged in an accelerated ethnic cleansing program in the occupied West Bank.
These acts are all war crimes according to the Geneva Conventions but seemingly invisible to Bensouda.
Bensouda, heavily criticized for her inaction, claims she has no jurisdiction other than in Africa and that the court can only take on cases when she has been directed by specific unnamed members of the UN Security Council.
In fact, no one has been able to ascertain a pattern or logic to any of her actions as she typically falls back on excuses, claiming the court is underfunded or subject to unspecified extralegal prohibitions placed on the court by groups she is unwilling to name.
Murder and Piracy
The case for prosecution over the Israeli attacks on the Freedom Flotilla in 2010 involves an almost limitless number of war crimes, many of which were filmed.
The unarmed flotilla was attacked in international waters, an act of piracy.
Journalists and activists were executed, some shot through the back of the head while being held down by IDF "commandos."
American Marine, Ken O'Keefe, a peace activist among those on the Mavi Marmara, disarmed and captured 3 Israeli "commandos," taking them prisoner and holding them until the ship was swarmed by up to 200 attackers.
Americans Among the War Criminals
Among them, nearly a third were dual US/Israeli citizens, engaged in acts inconsistent with both international and American prohibitions.
The following text, the oath of allegiance that binds all Americans, makes this issue clear.
"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."
The oath fails to mention war crimes, genocide and ethnic cleansing specifically but it is not unreasonable to assume that it prohibitions of such acts on behalf of even the Israeli government are clear within its meaning.
The Attack, the Apology
Israel then took control of the convoy, taking the ships to Israel, where passengers, including O'Keefe, were interrogated and tortured.
The medical supplies onboard were stolen, later to show up in Africa, sold there by an Israeli owned firm located in Cameroon according to a former Pentagon official.
In May 2014, then Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan agreed to accept an apology from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who openly admitted the attack was an unjustified violation of international war.
Netanyahu admitted personally not only authorizing the attack but directing its planning and execution as well.
Bensouda, who never considered charges against Netanyahu, in actuality never investigated in any way.
No witnesses were interviewed, no investigators were involved, no documents were reviewed and no written accounts were taken into consideration.
In fact, that the ICC could come to a finding at all is unusual as there is no evidence that any required legal process was ever initiated.
Bensouda's claim that the incident failed to meet criteria as a war crime based on "scale" is unsupported by language within the Rome Statute.
The attack on the flotilla was a major military operation with over 2000 Israeli military involved including units of the Israeli navy, the IDF and Israeli Air Force.
The ICC's failure to act based on capricious interpretation of statute in the face of Netanyahu's admission of guilt will likely have repercussions.
There is little question left that the ICC is ineffective and has systematically targeted African leaders with a history of anti-imperialist stances.
Fatou Bensouda, the first woman, the first Muslim to assume the post of Chief Prosecutor for the ICC, has through her inaction in the face of blatant disregard for law on the behalf of Israel, permanently stained her tenure representing an organization long in need of reform.
With tens of thousands facing potential war crimes charges, more than half Americans, elected officials, military or privatized military and intelligence corporations under contract, and conflicts spreading from the Ukraine to Cape Town to Islamabad and beyond, the promise of international justice continues to remain unrealistic.
Gordon Duff is a Marine Vietnam veteran, a combat infantryman, and Senior Editor at Veterans Today. His career has included extensive experience in international banking along with such diverse areas as consulting on counter insurgency, defense technologies or acting as diplomatic representative for UN humanitarian and economic development efforts. Gordon Duff has traveled to over 80 nations. His articles are published around the world and translated into a number of languages. He is regularly on TV and radio, a popular and sometimes controversial guest.
Israel Guilty of War Crimes over
Turkish Aid Ship Attack, ICC Says
(November 5, 2014) -- Prosecutors of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague have told a Turkish organization that Israel is guilty of "war crimes" for attacking a Turkish aid ship for Gaza in 2010.
In May of that year, Israeli commandos killed nine peaceful activists, eight Turkish nationals and an American of Turkish origin, in international waters by using lethal force on the Mavi Marmara, a ship participating in a "Gaza Freedom Flotilla" carrying humanitarian aid and construction materials for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which was under a seven-year Israeli blockade at the time.
The Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), a Turkish NGO, in a statement Tuesday said the prosecution team had finished its investigation in the Mavi Marmara case and concluded that Israel committed "war crimes."
The aid ship Mavi Marmara belonged to the foundation, whose law committee had filed a petition at the court for a fair and speedy trial in the case. The court took up the petition in March 2014.
The 2010 incident caused international outrage and soured Turkish-Israeli ties.
In March 2014, Turkey received an apology from the Israeli government.
The two states are now looking to normalize their relations with a deal said to be involving compensation for the victims' families.
The Palestinians have threatened to join the ICC to allow legal action to be taken against Israel.
Based in The Hague, the ICC opened its doors in 2003 and is the world's first independent court set up to try the worst crimes, including genocide and war crimes.
In 2012, the Palestinians won the status of observer state in the United Nations, which gives them the ability to become a party to the ICC, where they could sue Israeli officials over alleged war crimes.
As neither Israel nor Palestine are ICC members, the court lacks jurisdiction over Gaza. This could be granted by a UN Security Council resolution, but Israel's main ally, the United States, would probably veto any such proposal.
The overwhelming General Assembly vote recognizing the "non-member state" of Palestine was strongly opposed by the United States and Israel.
Membership of the ICC opens countries to investigations both on their behalf and against them. Several major powers, including the United States, as well as Israel, have declined to ratify the court's founding treaty, the Rome Statute.
The Palestinians in 2009 and 2014 pushed the ICC's prosecutor's office to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Israeli military in Gaza.
ICC: Israel Committed 'War Crimes' but It's Not Our Problem
(November 6, 2014) -- According to lawyers, the court's decision confirms that Israel has a 'special status' in regards to international law.
International Criminal Court (ICC) lawyers believe that Israel is guilty of "war crimes" for the raid on an aid ship bound for Gaza in 2010 that killed nine Turkish activists. However, they have also decided that the case does not meet their criteria for prosecution, according to court papers seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
On May 31, 2010, the Israeli military forcefully boarded six civilian ships from the "Gaza Freedom Flotilla" that were traveling from Turkey to deliver humanitarian aid and construction materials to the besieged region. The army boarded the ships in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea.
The activists on board say they did not put up a fight, however the Israeli army insists that they were met with resistance -- which led to several activists being killed, including eight Turkish nationals and an American of Turkish origin on the Mavi Marmara boat.
The ICC does not have jurisdiction over crimes committed in either Turkey, where most the boats were registered, or Israel, since neither are members of the ICC. However, the Mavi Marmara was registered to the Comoros Islands, which is a member, making the crimes on board eligible for ICC investigation.
"The information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes under the Court's jurisdiction have been committed in the context of interception and takeover of the Mavi Marmara by IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldiers on 31 May 2010," read the papers.
But the papers also added that prosecutors had decided the crimes "were not of sufficient gravity to fall under the court's jurisdiction," reported Reuters. Their evidence and criteria for making this decision however, remained vague.
"Not having collected evidence itself, the Office's analysis in this report must therefore not be considered to be the result of an investigation," the paper read.
However, according to the ICC website, considering individuals guilty of war crimes does make them eligible to be tried under the ICC.
"The mandate of the Court is to try individuals rather than States, and to hold such persons accountable for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely the crime of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression..."
The Indian Ocean State, another ICC member, referred the raid to court, which obligated the ICC to begin preliminary examinations into the matter, according to their mandate.
"The Prosecutor's decision marks the first time a State referral by an ICC States Party has ever been rejected by ... Prosecutor without even initiating an investigation," said lawyers Rodney Dixon and Geoffrey Nice in a statement.
"It confirms the view expressed by politicians, civil society organizations, NGOs and commentators from many quarters that Israel has a 'special status,'" they added.
The report comes the same day that Bulent Yildirim, president of the Turkish NGO Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) -- one of the NGOs who organized the flotilla -- praised the ICC, expecting that they would announce on Thursday that Israel is guilty of "war crimes."
The ICC's final decision is likely to anger other Turkish activists, but also Ankara who accused Israel of mass murder after the IDF attacked the flotilla.
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