The Prime Minister Office on Thursday night slammed as “biased” and “distorted” a UN report that condemns Israeli actions regarding the Gaza protest flotilla last May.
The office said that the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, which issued the report on Wednesday based on the work of a panel of three experts, has “obsessively” pursued Israel.
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Although Israel has released video footage showing that its sailors were attacked aboard the Turkish vessel the Mavi Marmara before they shot and killed nine activists on board, the panel said that Israel’s actions that morning were brutal and illegal.
The 56-page document listed a series of alleged crimes committed by
Israeli forces during and after the raid, including what the panel
called willful killing and torture. It claimed there is “clear evidence
to support prosecutions.”
It further stated that “A series of violations of international law,
including international humanitarian and human rights law, were
committed by the Israeli forces during the interception of the flotilla
and during the detention of passengers in Israel prior to deportation.”
Examining the circumstances of the raid, the panel concluded that a
humanitarian crisis existed in Gaza on the day of the incident off the
“The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel toward the
flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but
demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence.
It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality,” the report said.
The Prime Minister’s Office said in response, “The whole world saw the
video shots of Israeli soldiers descending into violent ambush by thugs
who support terror and who tried to kill them with pipes and knives. All
this did not prevent the panel from ignoring the evidence and arriving
at a false conclusion that was predetermined from the start.”
Addressing the US General Assembly in New York on Thursday, Turkish
President Abdullah Gul demanded both a formal apology from Israel and
compensation for the casualties’ families.
Calling the deaths on the Mavi Marmara an “unacceptable act in
international law,” Gul said Turkey is owed “a formal apology and
compensation for the aggrieved families of the victims and the injured
people” by Israel.
Gul referenced the flotilla incident during his remarks on the political
component of the General Assembly’s agenda, noting that there is “no
shortage of regional issues” to be discussed.
“Peace in the Middle East holds the key to a peaceful and stable future in the world,” Gul said, speaking in English.
“Unfortunately, the absence of peace there has had serious and adverse consequences for the rest of the world.”
It would be difficult to make progress toward permanent peace, he said,
“unless we put an end to the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza.”
Gul attached significance to UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon’s Panel of
Inquiry into the May 31 Flotilla Incident, as well as the fact-finding
mission of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.
Gul said he is “pleased” with the Human Rights Council report, which
offered “a solid legal framework for establishing the facts about the
In Israel, however, one of the few people to applaud the Human Rights
Council findings was MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad), who was on the Mavi
Zoabi was keen to praise the “professionalism and fairness in [the Human
Rights Council’s fact-finding mission’s] efforts to reveal the truth.”
She called on Israel to move forward with the findings of the panel and
to indict those responsible for the Mavi Marmara boarding operation.
“We must not settle for declarations of condemnation, but we must work
to bring the criminals to justice, those who ordered and those who
carried out the orders,” Zoabi said.
She added, “All attempts at character assassination will fail to make Israel appear innocent.”
In contrast, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Israel Beiteinu)
harshly criticized the Human Rights Council’s report and called the
findings “a big lie,” Israel Radio reported on Thursday.
Israel did not cooperate with the probe because it conclusions were
determined in advance, and the report establishes the Human Rights
Council as an irrelevant body, Ayalon said.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman instructed Israel’s embassies around
the world to begin a campaign to disprove the report’s conclusions.
The Foreign Ministry said late on Wednesday that the Human Rights Council had a “biased, politicized and extremist approach.”
“The Human Rights Council blamed Israel prior to the investigation and
it is no surprise that they condemn afterward,” said Andy David, a
spokesman for the ministry, referring to the 47-member body’s resolution
in early June condemning the raid.
Israel refused to cooperate with the panel, preferring instead to work
with a separate UN group under New Zealand’s former prime minister
Geoffrey Palmer and Colombia’s former president Alvaro Uribe that is
also examining the incident but has yet to publish its findings.
“Israel is a democratic and law-abiding country that carefully observes
international law and, when need be, knows how to investigate itself,”
the Foreign Ministry statement said. “That is how Israel has always
acted, and that is the way in which investigations were conducted
following Operation Cast Lead [in December 2008 and January 2009],
launched to protect the inhabitants of southern Israel from rockets and
terror attacks carried out by Hamas from Gaza.”AP and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.