Israel's interception of a Gaza-bound flotilla [JURIST news archive] violated international law, according to a report [text, PDF] released Wednesday by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website]. After conducting numerous interviews with eye-witnesses and viewing other evidence, the fact-finding mission determined that Israeli forces committed several international law violations, including violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Fourth Geneva Convention [texts]. The mission also determined that Israel's interception of the flotilla was prima facie unlawful. The report recommends judicial remedies and reparations, including medical and psychological care to those who were tortured. The report states that the incident must be viewed in the context of the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and warns that similar disasters have the potential to occur:
Similar disasters are likely to reoccur unless there is a dramatic shift in the existing paradigm. It must be remembered that might and strength are enhanced when attended by a sense of justice and fair play. Peace and respect have to be earned not bludgeoned out of any opponent. An unfair victory has never been known to bring lasting peace.A spokesperson for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs [official website] responded to the report [press release] by calling the mission's approach "biased, politicized and extremist." The spokesperson indicated that Israel will not cooperate with the commission, but will "read and study the report."
The Turkish Foreign Ministry [official website] recently submitted findings from its own investigation [JURIST report] to the UNHRC for consideration in the report. In July, an Israeli military probe into the incident found insufficient intelligence and planning, but concluded that no punishments were necessary [JURIST report]. Israel also established a civilian commission [JURIST report] in June to investigate its response. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [official website] testified before the civilian commission [JURIST report] in August and expressed confidence that the commission would find Israeli actions to be in compliance with international law, explaining the Israeli response to the flotilla in the context of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The incident took place on May 31 when Israeli forces raided six ships attempting to deliver more than 10,000 tons of aid to Gaza. The raid left numerous wounded and resulted in the deaths of nine pro-Palestine activistseight Turks and one American.