Thursday, September 23, 2010

UN report: Israel violated international law during flotilla raid

Photo of Israeli soldier boarding the Mavi Marmara, by IsraelIMFA
Israeli forces intercepted a humanitarian aid flotilla on 31 May 2010 in a military mission that shocked the international community, including humanitarians and human rights activists around the world. The military mission left 9 people dead aboard the Mavi Marmara, a ship that was carrying humanitarian aid bound for Gaza. In its defense, Israel invoked the right to defend and secure its borders and condemned the attempt by the flotilla to break the Gaza blockade. Following the incident, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) ordered an investigation into the flotilla raid and an independent fact-finding mission was established by the Human Rights Council to investigate the incident.

On 22 September 2010, the fact-finding mission issued a report of the application of international law during the raid. The report concludes that Israel violated international humanitarian and human rights law during the interception of the aid flotilla in May.

In a vital part of the report (Part IV) which dwells on accountability and effective remedy, the mission notes that victims of the flotilla raid have the right to effective remedy and reparations, and hopes that Israel honors its obligations under international law and bring perpetrators of the violation to justice.

On 1 June 2010, in an article about Israel's right to defend and secure borders, I concluded that Israeli commandos used disproportionate force during the mission and should be held accountable for the lives lost during the interception of the aid flotilla. Israel is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and therefore has a legal obligation under international law to hold perpetrators accountable and compensate victims of the flotilla raid.

It remains to be seen whether Israeli authorities will bring those responsible for the violation of humanitarian and human rights law during the flotilla raid to justice.

Read the complete 56-page report (in pdf) published on the Human Rights Council website, here.

A defiant Israel argues that the report is biased.

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