The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] on Wednesday condemned [press release] Israel's weekend raid on aid ships bound for the blockaded Gaza strip and initiated an independent investigation into possible violations of international law. The resolution was adopted by a vote of 32 to 3 with 9 abstentions and authorizes the president of the council to appoint members to the panel conducting the investigation. The US government indicated Tuesday that they were opposed to the resolution [press release], but they urged the Israeli government to conduct a transparent investigation. They also encouraged all parties to uphold their international obligations. Also Tuesday, the UN Security Council [official website] called for [statement text; JURIST report] a "prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation" into the raid. Reaffirming two earlier resolutions calling for a two-state solution [Resolution 1850 text] and unimpeded humanitarian assistance [Resolution 1860 text], the Council urged Israel to allow other nations to retrieve their wounded and deceased and to ensure delivery of the aid materials aboard the ships. The Security Council's statement came one day after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profiles] both condemned [statement text] the Israeli action and called for an independent inquiry [press release].
The Turkish ship on which the violence occurred [ABC report] was one of six organized [Guardian backgrounder] by the Free Gaza Movement [advocacy website] to carry protesters and humanitarian supplies to the isolated Palestinian enclave. The Gaza naval blockade began in 2007 [Montreal Gazette backgrounder] after Hamas [CFR backgrounder], designated as a terrorist organization [text] by the US State Department, was elected [JURIST report] as the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority. In January 2008, then-UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Louise Arbour condemned the blockade [JURIST report], saying that it was collective punishment.