ICC taps panel to mull war crimes lawsuit against Israel

(JTA) — The president of the International Criminal Court has taken the first steps toward an investigation of a war crimes lawsuit against Israel over the 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara.

Sang-Hyun Song of South Korea appointed a three-judge panel to study the procedural requirements for the suit. The appointment puts in place the legal apparatus for an investigation but does not actually launch a probe, The Associated Press reported. Israel is not a member of the ICC.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in May that she would open a preliminary examination into the Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla, which left nine Turkish activists dead.

Bensouda said she was obliged to open a preliminary examination following a referral from the Indian Ocean nation of Comoros, where one of the raided flotilla vessels was registered.

The raid, in which Israeli special forces rappelled down onto the ships of activists who were seeking to break an Israeli blockade of Hamas in Gaza, caused a breakdown in relations between Turkey and Israel.

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