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ICC orders chief prosecutor to re-examine Gaza flotilla raid case

The prosecutor had concluded in 2014 and 2017 that there was "not of sufficient gravity" to prosecute Israel over the 2010 raid of the Mavi Marmara
International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (AFP)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) asked on Monday for its chief prosecutor to re-examine whether Israel should face charges over a fatal 2010 raid on a flotilla carrying aid to the besieged Gaza Strip.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda concluded in 2014 that the case - in which 10 people were killed - was "not of sufficient gravity" to prosecute Israel over, meaning that it could be settled as inadmissible before the ICC.

In 2017, Bensouda again affirmed the decision after judges said she must take another look at the case.

On Monday, appeals judges ruled that Bensouda must once more reconsider whether to bring Israel before the Hague-based court.

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"The prosecutor is directed to reconsider her decision by 2 December 2019," presiding appeals judge Solomy Balungi Bossa told the court, adding that a majority of judges had backed the move with two dissensions, AFP reported.

Nine Turkish citizens died when Israeli marines stormed the Mavi Marmara - a Comoros-registered ship among eight ships trying to break a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip - on 31 May 2010. One more died in hospital in 2014 as a result of injuries sustained during the raid.

The incident created a strain in ties between Israel and Turkey. The two countries agreed to normalise relations after holding long-running secret talks in third countries, with Israel offering an apology over the raid and $20m in compensation.

Israel also agreed to allow Turkish aid to reach Gaza as part of the agreement.

Israel imposed its blockade on Gaza in 2006 after the Hamas movement - which that year won Palestinian legislative elections - kidnapped an Israeli soldier who was eventually freed in 2011 in exchange for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

The blockade was strengthened in 2007 when Hamas took control of Gaza after an internal confrontation with the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. While the siege eased somewhat following an international outcry over the killing of the Turkish activists, Palestinians and humanitarian groups have repeatedly issued warnings about the dire living conditions in the small coastal enclave.