The International Criminal Court has said it will not prosecute Israel for its lethal assault on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza, despite concluding that war crimes were committed. This decision has been called into question by the Counsel for the Government of the Comoros, which brought the case before the ICC, and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).
In a statement, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC and Rodney Dixon QC, Counsel for the Government of Comoros, said: ‘The Prosecutor’s decision marks the first time a State referral by an ICC States Party has ever been rejected by the Office of the Prosecutor without even initiating an investigation.
‘It confirms the view expressed by politicians, civil society organisations, NGOs and commentators from many quarters that Israel has a ‘special status’.
‘The decision is fundamentally flawed as a matter of law and on the facts, and the Government of the Comoros will therefore immediately apply to the Judges of the ICC to review the Prosecutor’s finding, as it is entitled to do under the ICC’s Statute. The Comoros will urge the Judges to rectify the Prosecutor’s errors so that an investigation can finally be opened.’
Sarah Colborne, Director of PSC, who was on board the lead vessel, the Mavi Marmara, when it was attacked said: ‘The ICC says it cannot prosecute war crimes unless they are being committed on a large scale. Israel’s war crimes, especially in Gaza this summer when more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed, are on a sufficiently large scale to be investigated.
‘We agree with the comments of the Counsel for the Government of the Comoros that Israel seems to enjoy a special status, and we welcome their decision to pursue this matter further. Israel must not be allowed to commit war crimes with impunity. It must be brought to justice and face the consequences for its actions. This is the only way to stop it from committing further war crimes against the Palestinian people and those who support them.’
The International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement today in which she said: ‘I have concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court were committed on one of the vessels, the Mavi Marmara, when Israeli Defense Forces intercepted the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” on 31 May 2010.’
However, the prosecutor said no further action would be taken. Her statement added: ‘Without in any way minimizing the impact of the alleged crimes on the victims and their families, I have to be guided by the Rome Statute, in accordance with which, the ICC shall prioritize war crimes committed on a large scale or pursuant to a plan or policy.’
The ICC report can be read here: