UN rights council names Gaza flotilla raid investigators News
UN rights council names Gaza flotilla raid investigators
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[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] on Friday named the members [press release] of its fact-finding mission into the May flotilla incident [JURIST news archive], in which Israeli forces raided several Turkish ships bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder]. The UNHRC announced the formation of the commission [JURIST report] in June, shortly after the incident, with the mandate to “investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law.” The three-member panel will be composed of Sir Desmond de Silva of the UK, a former prosecutor for the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone; Karl Hudson-Phillips of Trinidad and Tobago, a former judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC); and Mary Shanth Dairiam of Malaysia, a former member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women [official websites]. Announcing the members, UNHRC President, Thai Ambassador Sihasak Phuangketkeow, explained:

The expertise, independence and impartiality of the members of the mission will be devoted to clarifying the events which took place that day and their legality. We call upon all parties to fully cooperate with the mission and hope that this mission will contribute to peace in the region and justice for the victims.

The mission is expected to travel to Turkey, Israel and Gaza in the near future and present their findings on the incident in September. Israel has not indicated whether it will cooperate [Al Jazeera report] with the investigation, but has repeatedly rejected calls for an international investigation, instead conducting an internal investigation [JURIST reports].

Earlier this month, an Israeli military probe found insufficient intelligence and planning [JURIST report] in the raid in a report, but also concluded that no punishments were necessary. The report also pointed out the operation relied “excessively on a single course of action … while no alternative courses of action were prepared for the event of more dangerous scenarios.” It went on to commend the actions of the soldiers and their commanders, who exhibited “correct decision making” and justifiably resorted to the use of their firearms. Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [official website; BBC profile] established a panel of jurists [JURIST report] to investigate the attack independently from the IDF investigation. The panel has not yet completed its investigation. Israeli forces raided six ships attempting to deliver more than 10,000 tons of aid to Gaza in May. The raid left numerous wounded and resulted in the deaths of nine pro-Palestine activists – eight Turks and one American.