Israel sued for 'breaching US sovereignty' during flotilla raid

Israel sued for 'breaching US sovereignty' during flotilla raid
Three Americans and a Belgian are suing the Israeli government in US federal court, arguing the raid on a US flagged ship in 2010 was a breach of US sovereignty.
2 min read
13 January, 2016
Activists have attempted to break the Israeli siege on Gaza on multiple occasions [AFP]

Three Americans and a Belgian are suing the Israeli government in US federal court for injuries suffered in an Israeli raid on a Gaza bound flotilla in 2010.

The plaintiffs who filed the civil suit late on Monday evening in Washington are arguing that Israeli forces attacked US territory when they raided the US-registered ship the activists were travelling on.

On May 31 2010, Israeli forces raided a Gaza-bound flotilla of mainly Turkish activists attempting to break the Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2006, killing nine Turks aboard the Mavi Marmara, the largest of the six vessels in the flotilla.

The four plaintiffs who were abroad the smaller, American-flagged Challenger I vessel, say they were shot with rubber bullets, tasered and handcuffed by Israeli commandos during the nighttime raid.

"I was screaming to them, 'This is an American ship!' There was shooting all over the place and I was afraid a gun would go off in my face," said Huwaida Arraf, one of the plaintiffs who is a lawyer and human rights activist.

"I was dragged and my head was pounded into the boat. They had me handcuffed and hooded and pinned to the deck. They were really rough and I was screaming."

Another plaintiff, David Schermerhorn, suffered permanent eye damage in the raid, while the Belgian plaintiff Margriet Deknopper, was shot in the face with a rubber bullet that broke her nose.

They are arguing that given the vessel there were on was a US registered and flagged ship, the raid was a breach of US sovereignty, which has not been argued in court before.

The parents of 19-year-old Turkish-American Furkan Dogan, who was one of nine people killed in the flotilla raid, had filed an unlawful death and torture suit against former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in October, because he was the minister of defence at the time.

A United Nations panel found the raid was "excessive and unreasonable".

Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court [ICC] said in November 2014 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 Defence Forces intercepted the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on May 31 2010".