Relatives of a 19-year-old American citizen who was killed in Israel's 2010 raid on the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship are suing former Defense Minister Ehud Barak for the raid, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Furkan Dogan, a dual Turkish-U.S. citizen, was filming on the flotilla which carried some 700 activists who claimed to be carrying humanitarian aid for Gaza.
Dogan was shot five times, including point blank in the head, according to his lawyers.
The Mavi Marmara, which was violating Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza, defied orders to turn around and dock at the Ashdod port. After it ignored repeated warnings to change course, the IDF boarded the vessel – only to be attacked by Islamist extremists on board.
The soldiers had no choice but to open fire, resulting in the deaths of nine on board.
After an investigation, Israeli authorities discovered the vessel to be carrying no humanitarian aid – in fact, no aid supplies at all – whatsoever.
The civil case against Barak is being brought in California by some of the same human rights lawyers who have been attempting, so far unsuccessfully, to force the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) to mount a criminal investigation into the incident, noted Reuters.
Dan Stormer, a California attorney, said Barak, who was Defense Minister at the time of the raid on the flotilla, was served with suit papers on Tuesday evening after giving a speech in Thousand Oaks, a suburb of Los Angeles.
"The papers were given to one of his bodyguards who later handed it to Barak in front of witnesses," Stormer said, adding that he believed damages awarded could run into the "tens of millions of dollars".
Last July, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda appealed a ruling by a special panel of judges that she must reconsider her previous decision not to investigate alleged war crimes committed by IDF troops when they boarded the Mavi Marmara.
In an unusual move, the ICC judges had decided to investigate the previously closed case in which ten protesters who attacked IDF soldiers with lethal weapons were killed and Israeli troops were wounded.
Bensouda, who closed the file on the case seven months earlier, wrote in her appeal that the judges’ decision altered the mandate she was given under the Rome Statute that established the ICC, and dramatically expands the scope of issues the court is meant to deal with.
According to Wednesday’s Reuters report, the case against Barak is being brought in U.S. federal courts under the Alien Tort Claims, Torture Prevention and Anti-Terrorist acts. Since it is a civil suit, there is no possibility of Barak facing arrest.
"We have been pursuing every possible legal avenue to obtain justice for the victims of the flotilla," said Rodney Dixon, who has been arguing for the case to come before the ICC, according to Reuters.