UNHRC urges Israel to allow external flotilla probe

Committee questions legitimacy of internal investigation into raid.

311_Mavi Marmara side (photo credit: Associated Press)
311_Mavi Marmara side
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The UN Human Rights Committee on Friday questioned the credibility of Israel’s investigation into the May 31 naval raid on a Gaza-bound ship, and called on Israel to explain how the raid resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists The Geneva-based committee also urged Israel to end its naval blockade of the Gaza Strip and insisted that it allow an independent, external inquiry into the raid on the Mavi Marmara.
In its review of Israel’s application of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the committee also urged a halt to Israeli restrictions on Palestinians and investigations into all reports of abuse.
“The state party should ensure that all alleged cases of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and disproportionate use of force by law enforcement officials, including police, personnel of the security service and the armed forces, are thoroughly and promptly investigated by an authority independent of any of these organs,” the committee said.
There was no immediate Israeli response to the committee’s report, but Israel says the covenant – a multilateral treaty ratified by 166 nations including Israel and in force since 1976 – does not apply to Palestinian territories.
Committee member Christine Chanet said that she believed Israel did apply the covenant to settlers.
Quoted by Reuters, Chanet said that in Israel’s written responses to the committee, “one could see a total discrimination in the sense that settlers benefited from the pact.
“It is very difficult to have a real dialogue [with Israel],” said Chanet, a former French judge and international human rights expert.
The 18 independent experts in the HRC, who reviewing how the treaty is applied in each nation that is a signatory, also took issue with the “extensive use” of administrative detention without fair trial, including for children.
They expressed concern at restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in a “seam zone,” “frequent” demolition of homes and schools in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and discrimination on housing “disproportionately favoring” the Jewish population in those areas.
Last week the Human Rights Council appointed a team of international experts to investigate the raid on the flotilla and called on all parties to cooperate.
The committee’s recommendations are non-binding; Israel has long maintained that the body is biased and largely maneuvered by member countries with a vested interest to harm the Jewish state.
Israel’s internal military investigation has justified the use of force and officials said a similar approach would be used against future flotillas, should they attempt to forcibly break Israel’s naval blockade as the Mavi Marmara did.
A government-appointed committee, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Yaakov Turkel is currently investigating the flotilla affair.