Mavi Marmara, 2010.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Relatives of a US citizen who was among those killed fighting Israel Navy commandos in the 2010 Turkish- led attempt to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza have filed a civil wrongful- death lawsuit in the US against Ehud Barak, who was defense minister at the time.
Furkan Dogan, a 19-yearold dual Turkish-US citizen, was shot five times aboard the Mavi Marmara, according to his lawyers, who served the complaint to Barak Tuesday night. The blockade-running attempt was sponsored by Turkey’s IHH nongovernmental organization (the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief), a recognized terrorist group.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon on Thursday blasted the lawsuit as “yet another attempt to abuse... legal tools... for the cynical political purpose of attacking” Israel.
Haneen Zoabi on board the Mavi Marmara, May 2010
Nachshon continued that the ministry is “confident that the US will not lend its hand to such abuse.”
Further, he added that the Gaza blockade has been upheld as lawful both by the UN secretary-general-sponsored Palmer Report and Israel’s quasi-government Turkel Commission Report, which included international observers.
The death of 10 passengers during the altercation led to a diplomatic break between Turkey and Israel, litigation in Turkey against Israeli officials and an attempt to bring war crimes charges against them before the International Criminal Court.
To date, none of the legal proceedings has led to any consequences, though the ICC Appeals Chamber has yet to decide whether to close the case or allow it to proceed.
The civil case is being brought in California by some of the same lawyers working on the ICC case.
Dan Stormer, a California attorney, said Barak was served with suit papers on Tuesday evening after giving a speech in Thousand Oaks, a suburb of Los Angeles.
“The papers were given to one of his bodyguards, who later handed it to Barak in front of witnesses,” Stormer said, adding that he believed damages awarded could reach “tens of millions of dollars.”
The case is being brought in US federal court under the Alien Tort Claims, Torture Prevention and Anti-Terrorist acts. Because it is a civil suit, there is no possibility of Barak facing arrest.
“We have been pursuing every possible legal avenue to obtain justice for the victims of the flotilla,” said Rodney Dixon, who has been arguing for the case to come before the ICC.
Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center, which has successfully used the same statutes to sue the Palestinian Authority and other countries accused of connections to terrorist attacks, stated, “His US citizenship will preclude all his claims under the alien torts statute, which only permits suits by non-Americans, and his other arguments will be barred by immunity.”
It added, “Like most of the lawfare cases filed by the Palestinians and those that seek to delegitimize Israel, this one seems only half-baked and intended merely as a nuisance rather than a serious legal action.”Reuters contributed to this report.