“Israeli forces landed soldiers from three helicopters over a 15-minute period. The Israeli forces used paintballs, plastic bullets and live ammunition, fired by soldiers from the helicopter above and soldiers who had landed on the top deck. The use of live ammunition during this period resulted in fatal injuries to four passengers, and injuries to at least 19 others, 14 with gunshot wounds… At least one of those killed was using a video camera and not involved in any of the fighting with the soldiers.”
“Israeli soldiers continued shooting at passengers who had already been wounded, with live ammunition, soft baton charges (beanbags) and plastic bullets. Furthermore, some of the wounded were subjected to further violence, including being hit with the butt of a weapon, being kicked in the head, chest and back and being verbally abused. A number of the wounded passengers were handcuffed and then left unattended for some time before being dragged to the front of the deck by their arms or legs.”
The two statements above are extracts from the ‘Report of the international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance’ published by the Human Rights Council (HRC) of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2010 and concerns the storming of a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance to Gaza earlier that year.
The BBC reported that “A[nother] UN inquiry found that Israel’s [Gaza] blockade was “a legitimate security measure” and that Israeli troops had faced “significant, organised and violent resistance” when they boarded the ship.” So why, then, did ”a court in Istanbul began the trial in absentia of four ex-Israeli military commanders over the deadly raid on a Turkish boat (The Mavi Marmara) as it tried to break the Gaza blockade in 2010”?
How can Israel’s violent actions be seen as legitimate when many previous naval interceptions by Israel in the region did not see deadly force? The UN ruling raises the fear that a precedent could be set and endangering future flotillas sailing close to Israeli waters and that lethal force is now perfectly legal to be used to repel those Israel dislikes. And this is despite the HRC report claiming that it was “satisfied not only that the flotilla presented no imminent threat but that the interception was motivated by concerns about the possible propaganda victory that might be claimed by the organizers of the flotilla….Given the evidence at the Turkel Committee, it is clear that there was no reasonable suspicion that the Flotilla posed any military risk of itself. As a result, no case could be made for intercepting the vessels in the exercise of belligerent rights or self-defence. Thus, no case can be made for the legality of the interception and the [HRC] therefore finds that the interception was illegal.”
This also undermines the claim by Israel that it has a right to defend itself in international waters, i.e beyond its jurisdiction, because they feared that ships were intent on aiding an enemy of theirs (ie Hamas). It could apply should you accept that ALL of Gaza and its inhabitants are an enemy, but that is unreasonable as the Israeli blockade is (officially) aimed at Hamas whilst it is the inhabitants that are suffering the most. Flotillas that set sail to Gaza are hoping to assist the population there and not Hamas, so violent interception would then not be legal. Unless you believe the Israeli line that the flotillas are used as some sort of cover and are actually intent on assisting Hamas.
So who on earth is the UN listening to? Certainly not Turkey, who are taking action against those responsible for killing their citizens. And certainly not those on a recent Gaza-bound ship, The Estelle, which was intercepted by the Israelis last month. No one was hurt in that raid, but on board were politicians from several European countries as well as Israeli activists – but of course, there’s no political capital or gain in shooting European politicians or Israeli activists, possibly proving the HRC’s claim that “the interception was motivated by concerns about the possible propaganda victory that might be claimed by the organizers of the flotilla.”
Israel’s concern has never been about human rights, but about suppressing the real condition that Gaza residents find themselves in due to Israel’s blockade of Gaza.
Originally published at MPACUK
- Israeli navy intercepts boat trying to break Gaza blockade (panarmenian.net)
- Trial in absentia on attack on “Freedom Flotilla” begins in Istanbul (en.trend.az)
- #MaviMarmara | Turkey tries Israeli top brass in absentia over flotilla raid (updated) (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Palestinians killed as Israel shells Gaza (aljazeera.com)
- Swedish ship trying to break Gaza blockade intercepted by Israel’s Navy (jta.org)
- Gaza-bound ship Estelle intercepted by Israeli forces (guardian.co.uk)
- Gaza’s Ark In defiance of Israel’s illegal blockade the Gaza Siege (windowintopalestine.blogspot.com)
- Trial opens in Turkey against Israeli military officers in 2010 ship raid – CNN (edition.cnn.com)
- Dead and injured in Gaza flare-up (bbc.co.uk)
- Turkey prosecutes Israeli commanders for Gaza flotilla deaths (guardian.co.uk)