Moral Low Ground


Spanish Judge Issues Arrest Warrant for Netanyahu over 2010 Gaza Flotilla Massacre

The MV Mavi Marmara on its way to attempt to deliver relief to Gaza. The Gaza Freedom Flotilla was intercepted and attacked by Israeli naval forces on May 31, 2010; 10 activists were killed in the raid, some of them apparently executed at point-blank range. (Photo: Free Gaza Movement)

The MV Mavi Marmara on its way to attempt to deliver relief to Gaza. The Gaza Freedom Flotilla was intercepted and attacked by Israeli naval forces on May 31, 2010; 10 activists were killed in the raid, some of them apparently executed at point-blank range. (Photo: Free Gaza Movement)

A Spanish judge has issued an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and numerous other current and former government officials for their roles in the deadly 2010 military raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in international waters.

The Jerusalem Post reports Netanyahu and the other officials could be subject to arrest if they step foot in Spain after Spanish National Court judge Jose de la Mata ordered law enforcement authorities to notify him if any of the named officials enter the EU nation.

The others beside Netanyahu who could be arrested include: former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman; current and former defense ministers Moshe Ya’alon and Ehud Barak, respectively; former interior minister Eli Yishai; former intelligence minister Dan Meridor; and minster-without-portfolio Bennie Begin.

These individuals comprised the so-called Forum of Seven, an ad-hoc ministerial committee tasked with making crucial security decisions, including the ultimately deadly call to intercept and raid the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara aid flotilla, which publicly declared its intention to defy Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, in 2010.

On May 31 2010, Israeli military forces in international waters raided the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, organized by the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İHH). The seaborne convoy of humanitarian aid boats was carrying nearly 600 activists and desperately needed food, medicine and other supplies to the war-ravaged and poorly-governed people of Gaza, who had been subjected to repeated and intense Israeli bombings and invasions and a crippling embargo that banned items as basic as salt and toilet paper from entering the besieged territory. Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire and former US Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) were among those aboard the international aid flotilla when it was brutally attacked.

Ten people, including an American teenager, were killed by the Israelis. Some of the victims appeared to have been executed at point-blank range. The flotilla massacre was condemned by the United Nations as “incredibly violent” and “brutal and disproportionate.” A group of Nobel laureates including Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi, Jimmy Carter and others also condemned the raid.

Three Spanish nationals aboard the flotilla sued Israel over the deadly raid. In 2010, a judge in Spain’s National Court determined the country no longer had the authority to sue over international incidents and referred the Gaza flotilla raid case to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which dismissed it. But Judge de la Mata invoked a loophole which empowers Spanish authorities to resume their investigation of the incident if any of the implicated Israeli officials ever enter Spain. Netanyahu, however, could be immune from arrest if it is determined that he enjoys diplomatic immunity.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry called de la Mata’s actions “provocation.”

“We consider [the judge’s order] to be a provocation. We are working with the Spanish authorities to get it canceled. We hope it will be over soon,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said Saturday night.

In addition to the Spanish court, organizations including the United Nations, International Criminal Court and various nations, human rights groups and other non-governmental organizations have accused Israel of war crimes and other violations of international law relating to military actions in Gaza, Lebanon and elsewhere, the ongoing illegal military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights, the continuing illegal Jewish settler colonization of Palestinian lands, and more. Scores of UN resolutions condemning Israeli policies and actions have been passed over the decades, but the United States often vetoes Security Council attempts to hold Israel accountable.

A Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel has also gained worldwide momentum in the wake of what numerous prominent international critics call Israel’s ethnic cleansing and apartheid in the occupied territories.

Leading Israelis and their defenders often counter that Israel is acting to secure the homeland and future of the Jewish people, who have suffered so much throughout the ages, and that many critics of Israel are anti-Semitic, or if Jewish, “self-hating Jews.”

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