Turkish vessel 'Mavi Marmara'.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The High Court of Justice was clearly unimpressed on Tuesday with arguments from a range of groups to block the government’s deal with Turkey which resolved the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident.
The NGO, Shurat Hadin, filed one of the petitions against the agreement on behalf of victims of Hamas terrorism since the deal does not get Hamas expelled from Turkey.
Other petitioners attacked the deal for paying funds to families of IHH activists who the IDF killed during an altercation on the ship the Mavi Marmara as they commandeered it to stop it from breaking the navy’s Gaza blockade.
They said paying the funds was akin to the government of Israel financing terrorism.
Justice Uri Shoham hit back fast saying, “just because there is an agreement which contains certain elements, it does not mean you can say the government is financing terrorist operations.”
According to the deal, Turkey agreed that Hamas would not be allowed to plan terrorist operations from its territory, but did not agree to an expulsion of its political wing.
Shurat Hadin Director Nitsana Darshan Leitner said that distinctions between a political and military wing were artificial. In the NGO’s petition, it added that any Israeli agreement to normalize relations with Turkey without an expulsion of Hamas violated numerous Israeli public commitments on its red-lines for a deal, and would be a windfall for terrorism.
The petition specifically noted that senior Hamas operative Saleh al-Arouri, who gave the order which led to the infamous kidnapping and murdering of three Jewish teenagers in June 2014, has been hosted in Turkey along with at least another 10 Hamas agents.
But Shoham and Justices Neal Hendel and Salim Joubran pounded the petitioners with questions almost the entire time, barely asking the government any questions at all.
They said that the agreement clearly seems to be an issue of statecraft which courts are not equipped to judge and have no jurisdiction over.
Effectively, they said, whether it is a good or bad agreement is for elected officials and the public to judge, not the courts, short of an issue such as bribery or some other specific crime being committed in connection with the agreement.
Justice Shoham also praised aspects of the agreement, noting that it blocks future foreign war crimes cases against Israeli officials and soldiers.
He asked the petitioners why they were not worried about these cases if the agreement did not exist.
Lawyer Sharon Avni also sent a mixed message saying her client, a former member of the elite Shayetet 13 unit, would not have filed a petition against the agreement for the same grounds as Shurat Hadin and only filed because of the compensation to IHH families.