The committee determined that Israel's naval blockade of Gaza is in keeping with international law, and therefore its actions to stop the flotilla were also legal.According to a senior government official in Jerusalem, the report criticizes the Turkish government and highlights the relationship between it and IHH, the group that organized the flotilla.The report also states that, while Israel Defense Forces soldiers acted in self-defense, they used disproportionate force that led to the death of nine Turkish citizens. The report recommends that Israel pay compensation to the families of the dead and injured Turkish citizens, which Israel has already said it is willing to do.The official said the Turks would like to soften the parts of the report that could cause a political storm in Turkey.
The commission alluded to “the regrettable consequences of the loss of human life and physical injuries” — nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed and more than 50 were wounded during clashes on a Turkish vessel that was trying to breach the blockade. But the commission found that Israeli soldiers had acted “professionally and in a measured manner in the face of extensive and unanticipated violence.”The raid stirred international outrage and condemnation of Israel and its blockade of the Gaza Strip, and Israeli officials were hoping that the investigation would win the country at least some foreign support. But critics argued that the findings were a foregone conclusion.“This committee was suspect from the beginning,” said Moshe Negbi, the legal commentator for Israel Radio, “because it was appointed by the government, because this was not a state commission of inquiry.”Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, dismissed the report, saying Sunday that it had “no value or credibility.”
The report was initially scheduled to be issued on May 15. Israeli officials said it was postponed because the Turkish representative on the panel was unhappy that the findings went a long way toward vindicating Israel’s blockade of Gaza, and did not condemn strongly enough Israel’s use of force.
Israeli officials suggested that the Turkish representative on the panel was keen on postponing the presentation of the final report until after Sunday’s Turkish elections, so as not to complicate matters for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan if the report ended up supporting, even in part, Israel’s positions on the legality of the blockade and the soldiers’ actions.
UN officials have said that it may not be able to produce a consensus document.
Regarding another Gaza-bound flotilla expected later this month, Ban noted that he wrote letters to leaders of certain Mediterranean states from which the flotillas might sail, advising against the move.
The complaint, filed to Greek harbormasters, alleged that the boat was not seaworthy and accused the organizers sailing the ship of aiding terror, according to thereport. Additionally, the organization reportedly sent letters to 36 American citizens planning on sailing in the flotilla, warning them that their participation may constitute a violation of American criminal law.
Technorati Tag: Middle East and Gaza and Israel and Gaza Flotilla.