Commission concludes Israel did not violate international law in flotilla raid

[JURIST] A civilian committee assigned to investigate the May 31 Israeli raid [JURIST news archive] on several Turkish ships bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on concluded that Israel did not violate international law [report, PDF]. The Turkel Commission [official website], headed by former Israeli Supreme Court [official website] Justice Yakov Tirkel, along with Shabbtai Rosen, an international law professor and former Israeli diplomat, and retired Major General Amos Horev, released the first part [press release] of its final report, finding that Israel was in full compliance with international law regarding both security maritime regulations and humanitarian obligations. The report was based on testamentary evidence provided by Israeli military officials, as well as both video and photographic evidence of the attack. The report also addressed the actions of Israeli forces during the raid which resulted in the deaths of nine pro-Palestine activists and concluded that they conformed with international law:

After examining all the material it can be determined that the IDF soldiers acted professionally and in a measured manner in the face of extensive and unanticipated violence. This professionalism was evident, among other factors, in their continuing to switch back and forth between less-lethal and lethal weapons in order to address the nature of the violence directed at them.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [official website, in Turkish; BBC profile] denounced the commission's findings [AP report] hours after the report was released.

Last year, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] agreed to adopt a recent report [JURIST reports] criticizing Israel's raid of the Gaza-bound flotilla and finding the country committed various violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The UNHRC also adopted the conclusions relating to judicial remedies and reparations and called on the parties involved to abide by these recommendations, which include providing medical and psychological care to those who were tortured during the raid. In July 2010, an Israeli military probe into the flotilla incident found insufficient intelligence and planning, but concluded that no punishments were necessary [JURIST report]. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [official website] testified before the civilian commission [JURIST report] in August and expressed confidence that the commission would find Israeli actions to be in compliance with international law, explaining the Israeli response to the flotilla in the context of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The incident took place on May 31 when Israeli forces raided six ships attempting to deliver more than 10,000 tons of aid to Gaza. International law scholars have disagreed about the propriety of the IDF's raid, with some claiming that there were clear violations of international law while others found the raid necessary and proportionate [JURIST op-eds].

 

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