x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Israel faces war crimes lawsuit

Three Spanish activists who were on board the aid flotilla raided by Israeli troops have filed a lawsuit against Israel for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Three Spanish activists who were on board the aid flotilla raided by Israeli troops in May have filed a lawsuit in Madrid against Israel for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The complaint filed at the National Court names Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and six members of his cabinet including foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman and defence minister Ehud Barak, as well as a top military officer.

In their complaint the three wrote that the "crime committed were not an accident or an act of defence" but "assassinations carried out consciously" in response to "orders given several days earlier". Israel sparked international outrage when its commandos attacked a fleet of aid ships bound for Gaza on May 31, killing nine Turkish activists. They then forced the six ships in the convoy to dock at an Israeli port, before detaining those on board.

Israel has said the commandos opened fire after they came under attack. Meanwhile the UN has advised groups seeking to deliver aid to Gaza that they should do so by land, after Israel warned it would intercept two ships seeking to break the blockade. "There are established routes for supplies to enter by land. That is the way aid should be delivered to the people of Gaza," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told a press briefing.

"Our stated preference has been and remains that aid should be delivered by established routes, particularly at a sensitive time in indirect proximity (peace) talks between Palestinians and Israelis," he added. He made the comments after Israel served notice its forces would prevent a planned Lebanese aid flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip. "We have received information in recent days about a plan to send a new flotilla to break the blockade around Gaza," Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak said on Israeli television.

"This is an unnecessary provocation and we believe that preventing such a flotilla is the responsibility of the Lebanese government." "If this flotilla does leave Lebanon and refuses to be led by our navy to the (Israeli) port of Ashdod, we will have no other choice than to arrest it at sea," the minister added. "There exists a way of transferring goods, which are not weapons or material for war-like purposes, to the Gaza Strip through the port of Ashdod."

* AFP