ICC Whitewashes Israeli Mass Murder
by Stephen Lendman
On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos committed premeditated murder. Killing nine Turkish humanitarian activists in cold blood.
In international waters. Bringing vitally needed aid to besieged Gazans.
A Human Rights Council investigation followed. Bashing Israel's "outrageous attack on aid ships attempting to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip."
Committing high-seas "piracy, (an) act of aggression, (a) brutal massacre, (an) act of terrorism, (a) war crime, (a) crime against humanity, unprovoked...unwarranted...atrocious, (and) brutal."
Humanitarian activists were "peaceful, innocent, noble, unarmed, (and) defenseless."
Attacking them "was unnecessary, disproportionate, excessive, inappropriate and resulted in the wholly avoidable killing and maiming of a large number of civilian passengers."
"Israel made "a deliberate attempt...to suppress or destroy evidence." Its own version of events was fabricated. Fake videos and other falsified materials were used.
Crimes against humanity were committed. So was piracy. Unaccountably. Israel's High Court ignored them.
Other Israeli war crimes. Refusing to hear petitioner Marwan Dalai. An Israeli Arab jurist. Addressing Israel's:
• premeditated 2006 Lebanon war of aggression;
• Cast Lead high crimes (December 2008/January 2009); and
• murdering nine Turkish Mavi Marmara Gaza humanitarian mission activists in in cold blood.
Despite damning evidence. Indisputable. Too grave to ignore. It didn't matter. Israeli supremes lied saying:
"The petitioner didn't provide enough evidence that could prove the connection between the respondents and the events that, as the petitioner sees them, could be called 'war crimes.' "
Five weeks of premeditated Lebanon terror-bombing didn't matter. Causing mass slaughter and destruction. Killing civilians in cold blood.
Waging naked aggression on Gaza. Committing grave high crimes against peace. Lawlessly interdicting Freedom Flotilla vessels in international waters.
Murdering nine Turkish nationals aboard the Mavi Marmara mother ship. Massacring them in cold blood.
Injuring dozens of others. Arresting everyone. Treating them brutally. Barbarism by any standard. Lawlessness writ large.
Not according to Israeli supremes. Nor ICC chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.
On November 6, calling Israeli mass murder not "of sufficient gravity to justify further action." Case closed.
On the one hand saying Israel committed war crimes. On the other claiming not of "sufficient gravity" to justify ICC prosecution.
More on Rome Statute authority below. Bensouda's full statement was as follows:
"On 14 May 2013, a referral was received by my Office from the authorities of the Union of the Comoros, a State Party to the Rome Statute."
"The same day, I announced the opening of a preliminary examination 'with respect to the 31 May 2010 Israeli raid on the Humanitarian Aid Flotilla bound for [the] Gaza Strip.' "
"Following a thorough legal and factual analysis of the information available, 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, after carefully assessing all relevant considerations, I have concluded that the potential case(s) likely arising from an investigation into this incident would not be of 'sufficient gravity' to justify further action by the ICC."
"The gravity requirement is an explicit legal criteria set by the Rome Statute."
"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."
"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."
"My Office's assessment of the situation referred by the Comoros was based on open and other reliable sources, which we subjected to our strict practice of independent, impartial and thorough analysis."
"Under the Rome Statute, the referring State, in this case, the Union of the Comoros, has the right to request the Judges of the ICC to review my decision not to proceed to open an investigation, pursuant to article 53(3)(a) of the Statute."
"I have made it clear in the past and I will repeat it here: my Office will execute its mandate, without fear or favour, where the Court's jurisdiction is established; and will vigorously pursue those - irrespective of status or affiliation - who commit mass crimes that shock the conscience of humanity."
"We will do so with unyielding commitment to end impunity for mass crimes and in total independence, but we can only do so in strict conformity with the Rome Statute legal framework."
Rome Statute Article 5 applies to "crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court…(L)imited to the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole." Including:
(a) The crime of genocide;
(b) Crimes against humanity;
(c) War crimes;
(d) The crime of aggression.
Mavi Marmara victims' lawyers petitioned Bensouda pursuant Rome Statute Articles 12, 13 and 14. So did Comoros Islands officials. Mavi Marmara's flag state.
Article 12 says "(a) State which becomes a Party to this Statute thereby accepts the jurisdiction of the Court with respect to the crimes referred to in article 5.
2. In the case of article 13, paragraph (a) or (c), the Court may exercise its jurisdiction if one or more of the following States are Parties to this Statute or have accepted the jurisdiction of the Court in accordance with paragraph 3:
(a) The State on the territory of which the conduct in question occurred or, if the crime was committed on board a vessel or aircraft, the State of registration of that vessel or aircraft;
(b) The State of which the person accused of the crime is a national.
3. If the acceptance of a State which is not a Party to this Statute is required under paragraph 2, that State may, by declaration lodged with the Registrar, accept the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court with respect to the crime in question.
The accepting State shall cooperate with the Court without any delay or exception in accordance with Part 9."
Article 13 states "(t)he Court may exercise its jurisdiction with respect to a crime referred to in article 5 in accordance with the provisions of this Statute if:
(a) A situation in which one or more of such crimes appears to have been committed is referred to the Prosecutor by a State Party in accordance with article 14;
(b) A situation in which one or more of such crimes appears to have been committed is referred to the Prosecutor by the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations; or
(c) The Prosecutor has initiated an investigation in respect of such a crime in accordance with article 15."
Under Article 14, "(a) State Party may refer to the Prosecutor a situation in which one or more crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court appear to have been committed requesting the Prosecutor to investigate the situation for the purpose of determining whether one or more specific persons should be charged with the commission of such crimes.
2. As far as possible, a referral shall specify the relevant circumstances and be accompanied by such supporting documentation as is available to the State referring the situation.
Article 15 lets prosecutors initiate investigations proprio motu (on their own initiative) based on "information on crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court."
Israeli commandos committed cold-blooded murder. Premeditated. Indisputable state terror. Demanding accountability.
Turkey's IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation President Bulent Yildirim criticized Bensouda's ruling.
Intending to pursue things further. According to Turkey's official press service, Anadolu Agency, the ICC found Israeli guilty of "war crimes."
Yildirim said the "UN and Amnesty International have already stated that the Israeli attacks were war crimes."
Prosecutorial statements will "be used to defend the rights of thousands of civilians in Gaza killed by Israel."
Israeli commandos killed Ismail Bilgen's father aboard the Mavi Marmara. He "feel(s) honored that (his) father was killed when he was defending Palestinian rights," he said.
"We will maintain our belief that no normalisation can be achieved with Israel until they are punished for what they did."
He wants to be aboard the next Mavi Marmara humanitarian mission to Gaza. It'll be part of a new Freedom Flotilla convoy preparing to sail.
He and other families of victims want Israel held accountable for high crimes too grave to ignore. Justice remains denied.
A Final Comment
ICC was established to prosecute individuals for genocide and aggression, as well as crimes or war and against humanity.
It functions solely as a Western imperial tool. Targeting independent states Washington and rogue Western partners want targeted.
Turning a blind eye to Western and Israeli high crimes. In April 2012, former chief prosecutor Jose Luis Moreno Ocampo rejected Palestinian Authority's petition to investigate Israel's Cast Lead war crimes.
For spurious reasons. Saying "(T)he current status granted to Palestine by the United Nations General Assembly is that of 'observer,' not as a 'Non-member State,' (and only) relevant bodies at the United Nations" or group of states that make up the court may decide if Palestinians can become part of the Rome Statute.
"(T)he Office has assessed that it is for the relevant bodies at the United Nations or the Assembly of States Parties to make the legal determination whether Palestine qualifies as a State for the purpose of acceding to the Rome Statute and thereby enabling the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court."
"The Rome Statute provides no authority for the Office of the Prosecutor to adopt a method to define the term 'State.' "
At the time, over 130 nations recognized Palestinian statehood. Well over the required General Assembly's two-thirds majority.
Existing since November 15, 1988. A de facto UN member. Lacking only de jure status. Because longtime Israeli collaborator Abbas won't seek what's easily gotten.
Simply. Without US veto power blocking it. Security Council members only recommend admissions. General Assembly ones affirm them by two-thirds majority vote.
Ocampo violated his own mandate. Revealing his imperial agenda. Supporting it lawlessly.
Bensouda acting the same way. Refusing to prosecute culpable Israeli officials. Absolving them of mass murder.
They repeat unaccountably with disturbing regularity. Justice remains denied.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.