‘Israel Flotilla Raid Was Unlawful’

PALESTINE / ISRAEL, 27 September 2010

by Al Jazeera – TRANSCEND Media Service

UN Gaza aid probe says the raid of Israeli forces on flotilla was in violation of international law.

The UN Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission has accused Israeli forces of violating international law when they raided a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

The three UN-appointed human rights experts said in a report released on Wednesday that Israeli forces showed “incredible violence” during and after their raid on the aid flotilla that left eight Turkish activists and one Turkish-American killed.

The UN probe said  there was “clear evidence to support prosecutions” against Israel for “wilful killing” and torture committed when its troops stormed the aid flotilla last May.

Israel’s military response to the flotilla “betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality” and violated international law “including international humanitarian and human rights law.” The three-member panel said.

“The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel towards the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence.”

Israel has insisted that it acted in line with international law, arguing that it had the right to retaliate against ships attempting to breach its blockade of the impoverished Gaza Strip.

However, the panel said that since Gaza was suffering from a humanitarian crisis on the day of the deadly raid, for this reason alone, Israel’s blockade is unlawful and cannot be sustained in law.

The report is scheduled to be debated by the Human Rights Council on Monday.

The report also rejected Israel’s stance that its forces acted in self-defence when they raided the flotilla, arguing that even those who did not attempt to stop Israeli soldiers from boarding the aid ships “received injuries, including fatal injuries.”

“It is apparent that no effort was made to minimise injuries at certain states of the operation and that the use of live fire was done in an extensive and arbitrary manner. The circumstances of the killing of at least six of the passengers were in a manner consistent with an extra-legal, arbitrary and summary execution.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has responded to the findings by saying that the Human Rights Council, which commissioned the report, had a “biased, politicized and extremist approach.”

Hamas said that the report shows that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories violates human rights.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Hamas said that, “More should now be done, the commander who led the raid should be taken to International Criminal Court.”

Go to Original – aljazeera.net

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