Turkish vessel 'Mavi Marmara'.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Israeli Embassy in Germany on Monday welcomed a decision by the federal prosecutor to dismiss a criminal complaint filed by a Left Party MP alleging illegal imprisonment and war crimes during the seizure of the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara when it tried to run the Gaza blockade in 2010.
The embassy wrote in an email to The Jerusalem Post that it “takes positive note of the decision taken by the general federal attorney (Generalbundesanwalt) to reject the complaint of Ms. Inge Höger.
The same stance was reflected by the decision of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to close the preliminary examination into the Mavi Marmara incident that was opened following a referral submitted to the ICC in the name of the Union of the Comoros in May 2013.
The prosecutor decided to close the file without seeing a need to address the issue of self-defense by IDF soldiers who were attacked by activists of the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), as it occurred in the context of a flotilla which the prosecutor considered as not constituting a humanitarian mission.”
Left Party MPs Höger , Annette Groth ,and former MP Norman Paech were on board the Mavi Marmara when it attempted to break Israel’s legal blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza, and were detained and sent back to Germany. Israeli commandos intercepted the vessel.
The criminal complaint against “unknown responsible parties of Israel’s armed forces” was filed in early June, 2010. According to the prosecutor’s decision, which was outlined in an eight page letter to the MP, every allegation against Israel by Höger was rejected. The Prosecutorial decision stated there was no criminal attack on the flotilla as part of the seizure “against the civilian population or individual civilian persons” because Israel’s interception sought only “to take over the control of the ship” and not “damage individual persons.”
The legal decision added that the deaths on the ship can be attributed to the fact that some passengers resisted the seizure of the ship in “considerable organized violent ways.” Nine Turkish Islamists died on the ship in the violent confrontation.
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The Turkish IHH sponsored the Marvi Marmara flotilla in 2010. In 2010,Germany banned the Frankfurt-based Turkish humanitarian organization IHH because of connections to Hamas. A spokesman for German’s interior ministry told the Post at the time that “funds were provided to Hamas” and “that is reason enough” to ban the IHH. Germany classifies Hamas a as terrorist entity.
The federal prosecutor’s decision, which was issued in September 2014,states the flotilla ships were not civilian entities but constituted a military action. According to the decision, the ships “actively went against military measures” and became “participants in the conflict events” and the presence of civilians on board does not change the situation.
The Israeli Embassy pointed out that, “In this context, it should be mentioned that these issues were already subject to detailed and thorough investigation, including by an independent commission of inquiry headed by a former Supreme Court justice [the Turkel Commission]. There it was found that IDF soldiers were compelled to respond with force to protect their lives in the face of organized, pre-meditated, and lethal violence.”
The federal prosecutor found the detention of Höger and the search of her possessions to be within the rights outlined in sea warfare law.
Höger, who posted the federal prosecutor’s decision on her Left Party website in December, commented that the decision was “shoddy, cynical, and opportunistic.” She added that there is not a “word of regret or challenge to Israel’s policies” from the German authorities.
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