Israelis broke law with raid on flotilla

A report by three U.N.-appointed human rights experts Wednesday said that Israeli forces violated international law when they raided a Gaza-bound aid flotilla killing nine activists earlier this year.

GENEVA — A report by three U.N.-appointed human rights experts Wednesday said that Israeli forces violated international law when they raided a Gaza-bound aid flotilla killing nine activists earlier this year.

The U.N. Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission concluded that Israel’s naval blockade of the Palestinian territory was unlawful because of the humanitarian crisis there, and described the military raid on the flotilla as brutal and disproportionate.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded late Wednesday by saying the Human Rights Council had a “biased, politicized and extremist approach.”

Israel has maintained that its soldiers acted in self-defence when they shot and killed eight Turkish activists and one Turkish-American aboard the Mavi Marmara on May 31.

“The Human Rights Council blamed Israel prior to the investigation and it is no surprise that they condemn after,” said Andy David, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, referring to the 47-member body’s resolution in early June condemning the raid.

Israel refused to co-operate with the panel, preferring instead to work with a separate U.N. group under New Zealand’s former Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and Colombia’s former President Alvaro Uribe that is also examining the incident but has yet to publish its findings.

“Israel is a democratic and law abiding country that carefully observes international law and, when need be, knows how to investigate itself,” the Foreign Ministry statement said.

“That is how Israel has always acted, and that is the way in which investigations were conducted following Operation Cast Lead, launched to protect the inhabitants of southern Israel from rockets and terror attacks carried out by Hamas from Gaza.”

Fawzi Barhoum, spokesman for the Islamic militant group Hamas that controls Gaza, said the report emphasized that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories violates human rights “not only against Palestinian people but against innocent people who came to show their sympathy.”

“Now it’s required to be a mechanism in order to translate this report into action and to bring the occupation commanders to trial for the crimes they committed,” Barhoum said.

The Human Rights Council’s report was compiled by former U.N. war crimes prosecutor Desmond de Silva, Trinidadian judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips and Malaysian women’s rights advocate Mary Shanthi Dairiam.

It is scheduled to be presented to the council on Monday.

On the Net:

U.N. report http://bit.ly/FlotillaReport