U.N. Report says Gaza blockade legal and Israel faced “organized and violent resistance” by flotilla
I have posted about this U.N. report before, and Turkey’s attempts to prevent its release or at least modify the findings.
Considering that this is a U.N. report, and the U.N. almost never is fair to Israel, the findings are astounding. As reported by The NY Times:
A United Nations review has found that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is legal and appropriate but that the way its forces boarded a Turkish-based flotilla trying to break that blockade 15 months ago, killing nine passengers, was excessive and unreasonable.
The report, expected to be released on Friday, also found that when Israeli commandos boarded the main ship they faced “organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers” and were therefore required to use force for their own protection. But the report called the force “excessive and unreasonable,” saying the loss of life was unacceptable and the Israeli military’s later treatment of passengers was abusive.
The full report is here.
Turkey will be angry, as The Times notes:
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey says an apology and compensation would not be sufficient to return his ambassador to Tel Aviv. Israel also has to end its naval blockade of Gaza, he insisted.
The report does recommend that Israel should make “an appropriate statement of regret’ and pay compensation, but the Turks say that formula does not express sufficient remorse.
The report is close to a total vindication of Israel. It affirms the legality of the Gaza blockade, which I have noted is designed to prevent shipments by sea of sophisticated weapons from Iran, as well at the fact that the reaction to the Israeli boarding of the ships was met with organized violence. While the report does say Israel used excessive force, that finding now takes place in the context of a legal blockade and a reaction to violent attacks from Islamists on the ships.
Added: Here are some key findings from the report summary:
ii. The fundamental principle of the freedom of navigation on the high seas is subject to only certain limited exceptions under international law. Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.
iv. Although people are entitled to express their political views, the flotilla acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade. The majority of the flotilla participants had no violent intentions, but there exist serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers, particularly IHH. The actions of the flotilla needlessly carried the potential for escalation.
vii. Israeli Defense Forces personnel faced significant, organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers when they boarded the Mavi Marmara requiring them to use force for their own protection. Three soldiers were captured, mistreated, and placed at risk by those passengers. Several others were wounded.
For background on the flotilla, see my prior posts:
- Useful Idiots Condemn Israel
- Gaza Flotilla Organizer Puts Lie To “Humanitarian” Purpose
- Pallywood Meets The Gaza Blockade (Or, “Did You Hear The One About How Palestinians Can’t Eat Chocolate?”)
- The “Israel-Firsters” Slur Rears Its Ugly Head
- Eliot Spitzer Pwns Glenn Greenwald
And, Israel Matzav is not happy with the report, feeling it was too critical of the Israeli actions once on the ships. That is a fair point, once met with organized violence, the Israelis should not be nit-picked over how they defended themselves and averted their soldiers being executed or worse.