GENEVA — A report by
three UN-appointed human rights experts Wednesday said that Israeli
forces violated international law when they raided a Gaza-bound aid
flotilla killing nine activists earlier this year.
The UN Human
Rights Council's fact-finding mission concluded that the naval blockade
of Gaza was unlawful because of the humanitarian crisis there, and
described the military raid on the flotilla as brutal and
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56-page document lists a series of alleged crimes committed by Israeli
forces during and after the raid, including willful killing and torture,
and claims there is "clear evidence to support prosecutions."
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," the experts found.
the circumstances of the raid, the panel concluded that a humanitarian
crisis existed in Gaza on the day of the incident in Gaza and "for this
reason alone the blockade is unlawful and cannot be sustained in law."
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.
described the Israeli raid on May 31, in which eight Turkish activists
and one Turkish-American aboard the Mavi Marmara were shot and killed,
as "clearly unlawful."
Foreign Ministry blasts report as biased
The Foreign Ministry responded late Wednesday
by saying the Human Rights Council had a "biased, politicized and
"The Human Rights Council blamed Israel prior to the investigation and
it is no surprise that they condemn after," said Andy David, a spokesman
for the Israeli Foreign 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, launched to protect the inhabitants of
southern Israel from rockets and terror attacks carried out by Hamas
Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman said the report emphasized that
Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories violates human rights
"not only against Palestinian people but against innocent people who
came to show their sympathy."
"Now it's required to be a mechanism in order to translate this report
into action and to bring the occupation commanders to trial for the
crimes they committed," Barhoum said.
The Human Rights Council's report was compiled by former UN war crimes
prosecutor Desmond de Silva, Trinidadian judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips
and Malaysian women's rights advocate Mary Shanthi Dairiam. It is
scheduled to be presented to the council on Monday.