umm Abdillah, Radio Islam Programming, 2015.11.24 | 11 Safar 1436 H
The Turkish courts ruling, implementable by South Africa via warrants of arrest against four Israeli commanders from the Israeli Navy and Israeli Defence Force (IDF), who were responsible for the attacks on the Mavi Marmara have been termed a victory in many regards.
The decision follows a four-year-long case involving South African Radio 786 journalist, Gadija Davids who was aboard the Mavi Marmara to cover the relief aid mission to Gaza when it was attacked in 2010. She was assaulted, kidnapped in international waters, and denied consular access, while being held against her will in a Zionist Israeli prison.
A court order was granted on 2014 by the Seventh High Criminal Court of Istanbul, which led to warrants of arrest for the four commanders.
SAPS Brigadier Hangwani Malaudzi confirmed in writing that the letter, which the SAPS had issued on this matter “is being processed to the relevant section for compliance”. This created embarrassment for The SA Zionist Federation who disputed a story last week that the SAPS had issued a letter stating that details of the suspects, and further demanded that the Independent News Group publish confidential communication between attorneys representing Gadija Davids and the South African Police Services (SAPS).
The backstory | Operation Cast Led
The flotilla set out with the sole aim to break the siege on Gaza in the aftermath of Operation Cast Led.
On December 27, 2008, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, a massive, 22-day military assault on the Gaza Strip. The ferocity of the attack was unprecedented in the more than six-decade-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, killing some 1,400 Palestinians, most of them civilians. 318 were minors under the age of 18. More than 5,000 civilians Palestinians were wounded.
The Goldstone Report documented 36 specific cases and incidents where Israeli forces violated international laws during the Gaza offensive. These include:
a) Samouni family massacre: In perhaps the most infamous incident of the war, Israeli soldiers ordered around 100 members of the Samouni family into a single building in the Zaytoun area of Gaza City. Soldiers held the family in the building for 24 hours before shelling the building on January 4, 2009. Twenty-one members of the family, all civilians, were killed.
b) Al-Daya family massacre: On January 6, an Israeli F-16 jet fired a missile at the home of the Al-Daya family, also in the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City, killing 22 family members, most of them women and children.
c) White flag killings: The UN mission and human rights groups also documented several cases in which witnesses saw Israeli soldiers kill Palestinians who were fleeing while carrying makeshift white flags to indicate their status as civilians. In one case, a soldier shot and killed two women, Majda and Rayya Hajjaj (aged 37 and 65 respectively) who were fleeing with their families while carrying a white flag in the town of Johr Ad-Dik. In August 2012, in a plea deal with prosecutors, a solider was sentenced to just 45 days in prison for their deaths. To date he's the only person to face serious charges stemming from Cast Lead.
d) Use of white phosphorus in populated areas: Rights groups, journalists, and the UN mission in Gaza also documented numerous instances of the use of white phosphorus, an incendiary substance that is illegal when used in populated areas. Israeli forces used white phosphorus in attacks on at least two hospitals (Al-Quds Hospital and Al-Wafa Hospital), as well as the central UN compound in Gaza City. Numerous civilian casualties were caused by white phosphorus in the small, densely populated Strip.
According to press releases issued by the PSA and MRN, four poignant victories arise from this matter.
The first, the issuing of warrants of arrest for high profile IDF personnel who were not only in the chain of command for the deadly raid in the darkness of the night on the ship (Mavi Marmara) carrying humanitarian supplies to the impoverished Gaza Strip; but were also high ranking officers in the IDF during Operation Cast Lead which massacred 1400 Palestinians in Gaza and was found by the United Nations to be a systematic campaign of terror and wanton destruction. Thus, the four officers may also be interrogated for their involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The second is the victory of Ms Davids as she along with many others, exposed the criminal behaviour of the IDF on that fateful evening in international waters. Her courage, steadfastness and commitment to justice must be acknowledged.
The third victory is for the Republic of South Africa in its investigations, cooperation and undertaking to enforce these warrants of arrest in line with its obligations to international law to protect a South African citizen who suffered at the hands of the IDF.
The final victory belongs to the principle of accountability that has been absent in the case of Israel despite their murderous escapades both on the high seas and in Palestine. The courage of all individuals responsible for bringing these warrants to life, honours the memory of the martyrs who have fallen in the struggle for liberation from occupation. It is this momentous victory that reassures justice-loving people that accountability exists regardless of the military office one holds.