THE HAGUE The International Criminal Court's prosecutor said on Tuesday she would open a preliminary examination into events surrounding the 2010 Israeli raid on a humanitarian aid flotilla bound for the Gaza strip, in which nine Turkish activists were killed.
The prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said in a statement that she was obliged to open a preliminary examination following a referral from the Indian Ocean island nation of Comoros, where one of the vessels that were raided was registered.
Few preliminary examinations ever lead to a full investigation, let alone a trial. Activists have repeatedly attempted to involve the court in The Hague in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it has so far declined to investigate events in the Palestinian territories.
The raid, in which Israeli special forces abseiled down onto the ships of activists who were seeking to break an Israeli blockade of the Palestinians in Gaza, caused a breakdown in relations between Turkey and Israel.
"My office will be conducting a preliminary examination in order to establish whether the criteria for opening an investigation are met," Bensouda said.
The referral from the Comoros was relayed to the ICC by a Turkish law firm, Elmadag.
The United States has been promoting a reconciliation between Israel and Turkey, two of its allies. Since then, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apologized to Turkey for "any error that may have led to loss of life" and talks have begun on compensation.
(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Kevin Liffey)