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ICC orders prosecutor to reconsider probing Israel's Gaza flotilla raid

ICC's judges ruled that the prosecutor on the case made errors in determining the gravity of 2010's flotilla attack
Israeli army helicopters fly over the Mediterranean sea at sunset near the Israeli port city of Ashdod on June 29, 2015 (AFP)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday ordered its chief prosecutor to review a decision not to probe Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010, saying "errors were made".

Last November, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda dropped the investigation leading to potential prosecution over the incident in which 10 Turkish activists were killed by Israeli commandos.

In a statement at the time, she said said there was "a reasonable basis" to believe war crimes had been committed on the Mavi Marmara, one of the activists' ships.

But under the Rome Statute - the treaty which established the ICC and gives the court the authority to investigate and prosecute war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity - the incident was not of "sufficient gravity", Bensouda found.

But on Thursday, ICC's judges ruled that Bensouda should review her conclusion. 

"The prosecutor committed material errors in her determination of the gravity of the potential case(s)," the judges said in a published ruling.

"In particular, the chamber identified material errors in the prosecutor's assessment of the possibility to prosecute those persons who may bear the greatest responsibility for the identified crimes committed during the seizure of the Mavi Marmara." 

Bensouda must now reconsider her decision "as soon as possible and shall notify the chamber, the Comoros and the victims... of her conclusion and the reasons for it," the judges said.

The case was first filed by the Comoros, the tiny Indian Ocean island state where the activists' ship, the Mavi Marmara, was registered.

In January, the state pressed the Hague-based ICC's judges to review Bensouda's decision.

Israel's blockade on Gaza was imposed in 2006 after Hamas captured an Israeli soldier. It was tightened it a year later when the Islamist movement consolidated control of the territory.

Since the attack in 2010, several ships manned by pro-Palestinian activists have tried to reach the shores of Gaza, but they have all been repelled by the Israeli navy.