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THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Israeli forces may have committed war crimes when they stormed an aid flotilla boat heading to Gaza, but the possible crimes aren't grave enough to merit a prosecution at the International Criminal Court, the court's prosecutor said Thursday. Eight Turks and one Turkish-American were killed and several other pro-Palestinian activists were wounded when Israeli commandos stormed flotilla.
"Following a thorough legal and factual analysis of the information available, I have concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court were committed on one of the vessels, the Mavi Marmara, when Israeli Defense Forces intercepted the 'Gaza Freedom Flotilla' on 31 May 2010," Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement. But Bensouda said that any cases relating to the storming "would not be of sufficient gravity to justify further action by the ICC."
In a written statement, Israel's Foreign Ministry welcomed the decision to close the preliminary probe into a case it called "legally unfounded and politically motivated." Bensouda opened a preliminary investigation last year after the tiny African state of Comoros — which is a member of the court — filed a complaint about the boarding of the ship which was flying under a Comoros flag. A Turkish lawyer representing Comoros vowed not to give up the case.
"This is a moral struggle that we're pursuing by ourselves. It's a legal struggle, a struggle in the name of humanity. This struggle isn't over," attorney Ramazan Ariturk told reporters in Istanbul. "We will object to a higher court at the International Criminal Court and we believe without a doubt that we will prevail."