umm Abdillah, Radio Islam Programming, 2015.11.24 | 11 Safar 1436 H
In an important precedent, a utilisation of South Africa’s ratification of the Rome Statute, South African Police Services have this month confirmed that warrants of arrest have been issued against four Israeli commanders from the Israeli Navy and Israeli Defence Force (IDF), who were responsible for the attacks on the Mavi Marmara in 2010.
These commanders will be arrested upon entry into the Republic of South Africa. An arrest alert notice in this regard was circulated to the South African Border Control system on 3 September 2015. This information has also been forwarded to Interpol Pretoria, South Africa, to liaise with Interpol Turkey in order for a red alert notice to be issued. Should the suspects be arrested in South Africa, Interpol Pretoria must arrange with Turkish authorities for their extradition.
Passengers on all six boats making up the flotilla were determined to break Israel’s illegal siege on 1.5 million Palestinians confined to an open-air prison. The Gaza Freedom Flotilla, carrying humanitarian aid vital for Gaza, woke up to Israeli soldiers’ gunshots the morning of 31 May, 2010. The Flotilla was made up completely of civilians. Nine Turkish citizens on board the Mavi Marmara lost their lives on board. The tenth to die, Ugur Süleyman Söylemez, (51), died in May 2014, in hospital, after having been in a coma for four years. More than fifty people were wounded. Passengers testify to being beaten, their bones broken, and most of them tied up on ships that were in the Mediterranean, a direct violation of maritime law and the treatment of civilians.
Among the passengers aboard the flotilla was South African journalist, Gadija Davids. Davids was held against her will in an Israeli prison, assaulted, interrogated and denied consular access and legal representation. In 2011, Gadija Davids placed a formal complaint with the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) and the Directorate of the Priority Crimes Investigation Unit (DPCIU) of the South African Police Services (SAPS).
In November 2012, the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit of the National Prosecuting Agency, found that the case met the jurisdictional requirements in terms of South Africa’s ratification of the Rome Statute (Implementation of the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court Act) and that reasonable grounds existed to investigate the crimes that were committed against a South African citizen.
This opened the door for mutual co-operation between South African and Turkish Authorities. In 2012, Gadija Davids testified in Istanbul, along with other victims, at a Turkish trial led by the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) – a Turkish NGO that were the organisers of the aid flotilla.
According to Attorney Ziyaad Patel, the Attorney of record for Davids:
“This decision to enforce the warrant (issued by the Turkish Seventh High Criminal Court in Istanbul) is an important precedent for the utilisation of South Africa’s ratification of the Rome Statute. It has massive implications as it is one of the first in our country’s history where South African authorities have undertaken enforcement proceedings arising from codified principles of universal jurisdiction, in order for this case to proceed in co-operation with the case unfolding in Turkey as a result of the Rome Statute.”
This, according to eyewitness accounts:
As the Israelis approached, a white flag of surrender was raised on the Turkish cruise ship, Mavi Marmara. The Israelis fired before boarding the ships. One eyewitness on board said the commandos fired "the moment their feet hit the deck. They shot civilians asleep."
Two peace activists were shot in the forehead from the Israeli helicopters above before they set foot on the ship. Once the Israelis repelled onto the ship three commandos were disarmed and for a brief time and taken prisoner by former US marine Ken O’Keefe and others who resisted the attack.
The Israeli attack on the peace activists was shown live on Turkish television--filmed from one of the nearby ships--sparking a national outrage. The six ships were in international waters 80 miles off the coast of Gaza at the time of the pre-dawn, fajr, attack.
A UNHCR report clearly states, of the nine Turkish passengers who were murdered on board the Mavi Marmara, six of them were assassinated, and none of them had weapons. In fact, the only weapon in their hands was a camera. Even the whitewashing Palmer Report, a panel set up to counter what UNHCR had issued, reluctantly concluded that Israel overreacted. Following the attack, Israeli naval forces towed the flotilla's vessels to Ashdod, from where the activists were taken into custody by authorities, pending deportation. Among the activists was a mother with a one-year-old child. The Israel Prison Service detained some 629 activists, after they refused to sign deportation orders.
Nine Turkish men on board the Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times and five were killed by gunshot wounds to the head, according to the vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine, which carried out the autopsies for the Turkish ministry of justice. The results revealed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also had US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. Two other men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, according to Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the council of forensic medicine.