22 September 2010
Israel's raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla in May violated international law, according to a report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council. The fact-finding mission determined that the raid was unlawful and that Israeli forces committed violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Fourth Geneva Convention. The report recommends judicial remedies and reparations, including medical and psychological care to those who were tortured.
A spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the report by calling the mission's approach "biased, politicized and extremist." He said: "The Human Rights Council blamed Israel prior to the investigation and it is no surprise that they condemn after,” referring to the body's resolution in early June condemning the raid. Israel set up two investigations itself and said it would cooperate with an inquiry mandated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon which includes New Zealand's former Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and Colombia's former President Alvaro Uribe. This panel has yet to publish its findings.
The report for the UN Human Rights Council used information derived from the testimonies given before the Turkel Committee – the Israeli commission tasked with probing the events – including those given by IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and other high ranking officials, to completely dismiss Israel's version of the events, alleging that Israel sought a violent altercation. According to the UN probe, there is "clear evidence to support prosecutions" against Israel for "willful killing" and torture committed when its troops stormed the aid flotilla on 31 May 2010.
The report all but accepts the Marmara's passengers' version of the events in its entirety, negating Israel's claim that IDF soldiers boarding the ship were wounded by live fire, saying that, "Despite requests, the Mission has not received any medical records or other substantiated information from the Israeli authorities regarding any firearm injuries sustained by soldiers participating in the raid. Doctors examined the three soldiers taken below decks and no firearm injuries were noted. Further, the Mission finds that the Israeli accounts so inconsistent and contradictory with regard to evidence of alleged firearms injuries to Israeli soldiers that it has to reject it."
The report also claims that while "the flotilla organizers and other passengers engaged in efforts to request the Israeli forces to provide the necessary treatment to the wounded persons… These attempts proved unsuccessful and it was up to two hours before the Israeli forces took out the wounded persons."
Turkey welcomed the report. President Abdullah Gül told the United Nations in New York that the Israeli raid, in which nine Turkish activists were killed, had been a violent of international law. Gül said it would “be very difficult to make progress toward permanent peace [in the Middle East] unless we put an end to the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza.”
Read the full report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council here.
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