Relatives of a 19-year-old U.S. citizen killed in Israel’s 2010 storming of a Turkish-led aid flotilla are suing former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak for the raid, in which nine activists died.
Furkan Dogan, a dual Turkish-U.S. citizen, was filming on the flotilla carrying some 700 activists attempting to land humanitarian aid in circumvention of Israel’s blockade of Gaza when Israeli Defence Force commandos forcefully intervened.
Dogan was shot five times, including point blank in the head, according to his lawyers. At the time, Israel said the flotilla’s crew had been warned repeatedly before the raid.
The civil case 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.
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.”
The case 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.
The lawsuit represents the latest attempt to bring the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, among the world’s longest-running and most contentious, into the courtroom.
“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.
Earlier this year, the ICC launched a preliminary probe into possible crimes committed by both sides during Israel’s 2014 bombing of Gaza.
In August, a settlement was reached between a Jordanian bank and victims of suicide bombs sanctioned by Palestinian militant group Hamas, ending a long-running lawsuit in the state of New York.