UN's Gaza flotilla probe finds Israeli soldiers committed 'willful killing'
Israel rejected the UN Gaza flotilla probe's findings as 'biased.' In Turkey, most politicians welcomed the news and praised the panel's objectivity.
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A United Nations Human Rights Council investigation concluded that the Israeli military broke international laws during a raid on a Turkish ship that was part of an aid flotilla trying to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza.
The council’s report, announced Wednesday, was met positively by Turkey but dismissed by Israel as “biased." The report is separate from a UN flotilla inquiry backed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, which includes both an Israeli and a Turkish representative and is seen as carrying more weight than the UNHRC's investigation – but has not yet concluded its work.
In a 56-page report (pdf), the UNHCR's three-member panel wrote that Israeli commandos had committed war crimes during their May 31 raid of the aid ship the MV Mavi Marmara that left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead. Although Israel contends that its soldiers acted in self-defense, the council found that their response was “disproportionate” and that soldiers exercised an “unacceptable level of brutality.”
“There is clear evidence to support prosecutions of the following crimes within the terms of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: willful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health,” wrote the report's authors.
The council also found that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is “unlawful” because of the humanitarian crisis, reports the BBC.
The three-member council consisted of Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, a retired judge of the International Criminal Court; Desmond de Silva, former chief prosecutor of the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone; and Mary Shanthi Dairiam of Malaysia, a former member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
In Turkey, where relations with Israel have been immensely tense following the raid, most politicians welcomed the news and praised the objectivity of the panel. Turkey is Israel’s only Muslim ally and it has demanded that Israel officially apologize, compensate the victims’ families, and lift the blockade on Gaza, reports Press TV.
“We appreciate [the report]…. It meets our expectations. I hope the Israeli side will ... from now on act within international law," said Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister. “Our aim is not to cause any political crisis, but to make sure that everyone respects international law and that no country sees itself above the law.”