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UNHRC approves int'l flotilla probe
June 2, 2010 18:32
Motion to launch Goldstone-like inquiry into raid.
A ship protesting the Gaza blockade

GazaProtestFlotilla311. (photo credit:.)

NEW YORK – The United Nations Human Rights Council passed Wednesday a resolution condemning Israel’s interception of a Gaza-bound flotilla and calling for a Goldstone-like inquiry into the deadly military operation.

During a second bruising day of debate in Geneva, the 47-member body passed the resolution with a majority vote of 32. The United States voted against the Palestinian-backed document and several European countries abstained.

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The resolution accuses Israel of violating international law and calls for the immediate lifting of Israel’s blockade on Gaza. It also calls for an independent fact-finding inquiry, similar to one mandated by the Human Rights Council, which resulted in the Goldstone report.

Prior to the vote, nongovernmental organizations addressed the Council. Citing Israel’s offer to transfer the flotilla’s cargo to Gaza, Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watche, said the flotilla activists and organizers “wanted to create a political provocation; they were looking for a physical confrontation.” He also noted the use of metal bars, knives and guns by activists aboard the ship. “Is this a humanitarian state of mind?” he asked.

On Tuesday, Israeli ambassador Leshno Yaar told Council members, “The attack on Israeli soldiers was beyond all doubt premeditated.” Israeli commandos acting in self-defense, and Israel was justified, under international law, to intercept boats breaching its naval blockade.

But Palestinian ambassador, Imad Zuhairi, told the Council, “Israel believes it is above the law.”

Earlier Tuesday, the UN Security Council condemned the Israeli military operation during an emergency session in New York. The Security Council requested the immediate release of ships and civilians detained by Israel and called for a “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards.”

Afterward, American officials said many questions remain about what happened leading up to, and during, the Israeli naval raid. But US diplomats expressed full confidence in Israel to investigate fully. “We think the Israelis are capable of doing a full investigation,” Alejandro Wolff, US deputy permanent representative to the UN, told reporters in New York.
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