They were interdicted in international waters. That alone constitutes piracy. Cold-blooded murder is another issue altogether. In September 2010, the UN Human Rights Council issued damning findings.
It cited serious international law violations. They accused Israeli forces of lawlessly "assault(ing) and intercepti(ng)" the Mavi Marmara "in international waters."
It said doing so "was unnecessary, disproportionate, excessive, inappropriate and resulted in the wholly avoidable killing and maiming of a large number of civilian passengers."
It added that Israel made "a deliberate attempt....to suppress or destroy evidence." It also fabricated its own version of events. Fake videos and other falsified materials were produced.
Under Fourth Geneva's Article 146, each High Contracting Party is "under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts."
Under the principle of universal jurisdiction (UJ), another High Contracting Party may conduct prosecutions in their place. More on that below.
Key also is Fourth Geneva's Article 33. It prohibits collective punishment. Gaza's blockade is illegal. It violates Fourth Geneva and other international law. Isolating Gaza is a war crime. Prosecutions are warranted. High Contracting parties are obligated to enforce binding laws. Failure means complicity.
The Turkish newspaper Sabah said the accused Israelis will be arrested if they ever enter Turkish territory. Ankara's Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, expressed his "government's determination to defend the rights of Turkish citizens."
Whether an Istanbul court will, in fact, indict remains to be seen. It has until about June 8 to decide. Reports suggest Washington is applying heavy pressure to protect Israel.