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UN Calls Israeli Raid on Flotilla 'Excessive'


September 2, 2011
Al Jazeera & Voice of America

A United Nations-mandated inquiry into a deadly Israeli raid on a Turkish-led aid flotilla to Gaza in 2010 says Israel's action -- which killed nine passengers, including one American citizen -- was "excessive." The inquiry called for Israel to make "an appropriate statement of regret" for the raid and pay compensation to the families of the dead as well as to injured victims. A UN spokesman said the report was expected to be handed over in the coming days.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/09/201191183315401355.html

GENEVA (September 1, 2011) -- A United Nations-mandated inquiry into a deadly Israeli raid on a Turkish-led aid flotilla to Gaza in 2010 says Israel's action was "excessive", according to extracts published Thursday by the New York Times.

The report, which has not yet been officially released amid a dispute between Israel and Turkey, says that Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip is legal, however. Eight Turkish nationals and an American man of Turkish descent died in the May 31, 2010, raid.

"Israel's decision to board the vessels with such substantial force at a great distance from the blockade zone and with no final warning immediately prior to the boarding was excessive and unreasonable," the inquiry says.

Hamas, which controls Gaza, said the inquiry into the flotilla aid bound for Gaza was "unjust" and lacked balance.

'Acted recklessly'
The UN investigation into the events on the Turkish-flagged ship known as the Mavi Marmara, the largest of six vessels that were commandeered by Israeli commandos on May 31, 2010, was headed by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, a former prime minister of New Zealand, aided by Álvaro Uribe, the former Colombian president, along with a representative each from Israel and Turkey.

It said, however, that the six-vessel flotilla "acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade" set up by Israel around Gaza.

The inquiry called for Israel to make "an appropriate statement of regret" for the raid and pay compensation to the families of the dead as well as to injured victims.

Turkey and Israel should resume full diplomatic relations "repairing their relationship in the interests of stability in the Middle East," the report says.

Turkish Demand
Turkey has demanded an apology from Israel for the raid, but Binyamin Netanyahu's government has refused several times to make such a gesture.

Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, told the Hurriyet daily: "If Israel does not apologise and does not declare a willingness to financially compensate the families of the dead and those injured, Turkey will
put in place certain sanctions."

Publication of the report has been delayed several times because of the diplomatic tensions between the two sides.

The report has not yet been handed over to Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, who is to decide the official publication date. A UN spokesman said the report was expected to be handed over in the coming days.



UN Panel Says Israel Use of Force
'Excessive' in Gaza Flotilla Raid

Margaret Besheer | Voice of America

UNITED NATIONS (September 1, 2011) -- A long-awaited U.N. panel report on the Israeli raid of a Turkish aid ship bound for the Gaza Strip was leaked Thursday by the New York Times. In it, the panel found that Israel used excessive and unreasonable force during its raid of the Mavi Marmara last year, but concluded that the naval blockade of Gaza is legal under international law.

The New York Times posted a copy of the 105-page confidential report on its website ahead of its expected release Friday.

The panel, headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, as well as member from both Turkey and Israel, found that Israeli commandos who boarded the Turkish flagged vessel Mavi Marmara in international waters on May 31, 2010, “without warning or consent” used “substantial force” against the activists on board.

The panel says the action of the Israeli commandos “seems to us to have been too heavy a response too quickly” and “it was an excessive reaction to the situation.” They conclude that “the operation should have been better planned and differently executed.”

The flotilla of six ships carrying 600 pro-Palestinian activists set out to break Israel’s blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza and deliver medical, educational and construction materials to the Palestinian territory. But the mission turned deadly when Israeli commandos boarded the main ship and nine passengers were killed in the ensuing chaos. The report notes that seven of the dead suffered multiple gunshot wounds.

The Palmer panel found that Israel’s naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip does not violate international law and that its forces had the right to stop the ships in international waters in order to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza.

Turkey had argued that the naval blockade was illegal and that Israel had no right to stop the ships in international waters.

U.N. Deputy Spokesman Eduardo del Buey said he could not comment on a leaked report and added that the Secretary-General has yet to receive or read the document. The Israeli U.N. mission said it had no immediate comment, while a call to the Turkish U.N. mission was not immediately returned.

Relations between Israel and Turkey, once very close, became very strained over the incident, with Ankara recalling its ambassador to Tel Aviv.

The two countries have been negotiating about some type of apology from Israel and over compensation for the victims, but have been unable to agree. The U.N. panel did recommend that Israel should express regret and compensate the victims.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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