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US citizens file lawsuit against Israeli ministers over Marmara raid

Plaintiffs target Minister Shaked claiming Justice Ministry provided IDF with legal counsel ahead of the raid; suit also alleges Israeli commandos wounded more than 150 people in incident, tortured and arbitrarily arrested those on board the ships.

IDF soldiers boarding the Mavi Marmara (Photo IDF Spokesperson's Unit) (Photo IDF Spokesperson)


Three Americans and a Belgian national, who were on board one of the ships of the Marmara flotilla six years ago, have filed a lawsuit against the State of Israel at a US court.

In the lawsuit filed to a federal court in Washington, a copy of which Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked received over the weekend, the four seek compensation in light of the “war crimes” Israel has committed both in stopping the flotilla, which was making its way to Gaza, and by imposing a military blockade on the Strip.

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In May 2010, IDF commandos boarded the six-ship flotilla which was trying to break the blockade. In the clashes that erupted on board one of the ships, nine Turkish citizens and an American of Turkish descent were killed.

The incident led to a six-year-old diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel, which reached its official end last week when the two countries signed a reconciliation agreement.

As part of the deal, Turkey will be able to provide humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip—which will first go through security checks at the Ashdod Port—and Israel will pay $21 million in compensation to the families of the victims. In return, Ankara will drop any present or future legal claims against Israeli soldiers and officers.




The four, American plaintiffs David Schermerhorn, Mary Ann Wright and Huwaida Arraf, a dual US-Israeli citizen, and Belgian national Margriet Deknopper, were on the ship “Challenger 1, ” which was flying the US flag and carrying media equipment. There were 17 passengers and crew members on board.

The plaintiffs claimed they suffered injuries that included partial loss of sight when a stun grenade exploded inches from one of them, and a broken nose when another was hit by a rubber bullet.

“The attack on the high seas was unjustified and illegal under international law, ” lawyer Steven M. Schneebaum wrote.

The suit went on to claim that the commandos had injured more than 150 people in the incident, and that their operations included torture, cruel or degrading treatment, arbitrary arrest and assault.

The lawsuit was filed against Shaked because she heads the Justice Ministry, which provided legal counsel ahead of the takeover of the flotilla. Other government ministers were also named in the lawsuit.

The complaint argued that “the Justice Ministry advises (the military) on international law and has taken an active role in the planning, approval, preparations and the orders of the illegal raid of the flotilla while it was still in international water.”

Shaked said in response, “This is complete nonsense, let them sue. I don’t believe an American court would choose to deal with something like this.”

Ynet News



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