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Are Israelis Subject to the Rule of Law?
Istanbul, Turkey, March 25, 2014, "If they (Israeli officials) are not free to travel, if they can't go to their kid's graduations outside Israel, if they worry constantly about being arrested when they go to the UK or Spain or Argentina, then we have won half the victory,” stated the lawyer from Spain, Gonzalo Boye, at the one-day legal conference in Istanbul, Turkey sponsored by IHH.
His comments were made as attorneys from France, Turkey, Spain, South Africa and the UK discussed the ramifications of Israel’s attack on Freedom Flotilla I. The reports ranged from the status of criminal proceedings against the Israeli commandos as well as military and political leaders who attacked six civilian boats in international waters. There were also status reports on the Cormoros referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“Even if the perpetrators of these crimes such as willful murder, torture, large scale appropriation of boats, money and personal possessions are not in Turkey, they can still be tried,” added Turkish attorney, Yassin Samli, as he spoke about the Turkish court issuing arrest warrants for Israeli defendants.
Dimitris Plionis, one of the organizers of the Greek ship to Gaza, remarked at the end of the seven-hour session, “It took two years for the first two boats to sail to Gaza and anther two years before the flotilla went. We made history on those voyages. Now, it’s time for the legal voyage to make history and hold Israel accountable for its actions.”
Universal jurisdiction allows states to claim criminal jurisdiction over an accused person regardless of where the alleged crime was committed, and regardless of the accused's nationality, country ofresidence, or any other relation with the prosecuting entity. Crimes prosecuted under universal jurisdiction are considered crimes against all, too serious to be limited to domestic jurisdiction
If any court finds the Israeli defendants guilty, an arrest warrant can be issued and names turned over to Interpol.
It’s now time to hold the Israeli military and government leaders liable. They will have to look over their shoulders for the rest of their careers. It may not becomplete justice for the nine murdered passengers and the 150 wounded on that bright May morning, but, as the lawyer from Spain said, "We intend to complicate their lives."
Greta Berlin, Co-Founder, the Free Gaza movement
Editor, Freedom Sailors