Thursday, 6 November 2014

ICC set to declare attack on Turkish aid ship a 'war crime'

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) is expected to officially declare that Israel is guilty of "war crimes" on Thursday for the attack on a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza in 2010, Bulent Yildirim, president of Turkish NGO IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, said on Wednesday.

Israeli commandos killed eight Turkish nationals and an American of Turkish origin in a raid on aid flotilla "Mavi Marmara", which was carrying humanitarian aid and construction materials for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The ship was in  international waters when it was attacked.

The conclusion was reached by prosecutors of the ICC, said Yildirim at a press conference in Istanbul. The prosecutors also said that the attack was a carried out with the knowledge that the passengers on board were civilians.

Yildirim said: "The UN and Amnesty International have already stated that the Israel attacks were war crimes."

In 2013, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened a preliminary examination in to the matter following a referral from the Indian Ocean island nation of Comoros, to which the Mavi Marmara was registered. While the ICC have now concluded their examination, Yildirim added that the ICC passed the case on to national courts because the number of deaths in the incident was too low for the scope of the international tribunal.

Yildirim said his organization will object to the court's position on this subject.

He added that the statements of the prosecutors will "also be used to defend the rights of thousands of civilians in Gaza killed by Israel."

Relatives of the Mavi Marmara victims were present at Wednesday's press conference, including 26-year-old Ismail Bilgen, who lost his father in May 2010.

"I feel honoured that my father was killed when he was defending Palestinian rights," he told the Anadolu Agency, with tears in his eyes.

The prosecutors' statements were steps towards a victory against Israel, Bilgen said. "We will maintain our belief that no normalisation can be achieved with Israel until they are punished for what they did."

Bilgen said he very much wanted to join the next trip of the Mavi Marmara aid ship, which, according to the foundation president, is almost ready for a new convoy to Gaza.

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