Thursday, September 23, 2010

UN panel accuses Israel of war crimes for 'unlawful' assault on Gaza flotilla.

No matter how many times the UN and other legal bodies say this, it never seems to make an iota of difference to Israel's behaviour.

A United Nations panel of human rights experts has accused Israel of war crimes through willful killing, unnecessary brutality and torture in its "clearly unlawful" assault on a ship attempting to break the blockade of Gaza in May in which nine Turkish activists died.

The report by three experts appointed by the UN's Human Rights Council (UNHRC) described the seizure of MV Mavi Marmara, a Turkish vessel, by Israeli commandos as illegal under international law.

It condemned the treatment of the passengers and crew as brutal and disproportionate. It also said that the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian enclave is illegal because of the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

"There is clear evidence to support prosecutions of the following crimes within the terms of article 147 of the fourth Geneva convention: wilful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health," the report said.

"A series of violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, were committed by the Israeli forces during the interception of the flotilla and during the detention of passengers in Israel prior to deportation."

The Israelis have, predictably, rejected the findings as "politicised and extremist". And, of course, Israel refused to take part in this inquiry, despite earlier statements that she had nothing to hide and would co-operate.
In a statement, Netanyahu said: "Israel has nothing to hide. The opposite is true. It is in the national interest of the state of Israel to ensure that the factual truth of the overall flotilla events comes to light throughout the world and this is exactly the principle that we are advancing."
This offer to take part - and the declaration that "Israel has nothing to hide" - is forgotten as Israel now dismisses the report as biased.

But we all remember how shocked we were when we heard of the way Israel had boarded the Mavi Marmara, and that shock is itself and indication of how extreme Israel's reaction was. But, the report indicates that Israel's behaviour was even more shocking than we were led to believe.

The 56-page report – compiled by a former UN war crimes prosecutor, Desmond de Silva, a judge from Trinidad, Karl Hudson-Phillips, and a Malaysian women's rights advocate, Mary Shanthi Dairiam – accuses Israeli forces of various crimes including violating the right to life, liberty and freedom of expression, and of failing to treat the captured crew and passengers with humanity.

"The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel toward the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality," the report said.

Of course the Israelis will reject this report, and that, in itself, will surprise no-one. And the Americans will see to it that this report counts for nothing.

But there is a seeping of support away from the Israeli position - and a worldwide acceptance of the Palestinians as the victims of this piece - which Israel, for decades, managed to avoid.

Behaviour of the kind highlighted in this report has done much to undermine Israel's argument.

Indeed, Israel's denial of the use of white phosphorus in Gaza, and her subsequent admission that this substance had indeed been used, make many of us now take Israeli denials with a huge pinch of salt.
"Israel is a democratic and law-abiding country that carefully observes international law and, when need be, knows how to investigate itself," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
It's impossible to take that statement seriously, when one can clearly see Israel violating international law through the building of illegal settlements on Palestinian land, and offering to cease doing so only if the United States will free Israeli spies.

That is hardly the action of a nation which "carefully observes international law". Indeed, that kind of blackmail comes perilously close to the behaviour of a rogue state.

Click here for full article.


Anonymous said...

Israel’s minister must now face ICC charges

The United Nations official enquiry has now reported that there is clear evidence that Israel committed crimes within article 147 of the fourth Geneva Convention: wilful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; wilfully causing great suffering and serious injury to body or health.

There should now be no doubt that the minister who authorised the killings, Ehud Barak, must now be brought before the International Criminal Court to face justice, if he should set foot in any European state, including the UK, where it has been proposed to modify the law on Universal Jurisdiction.


Kel said...

I share your anger at the recent proposal to amend our law when it comes to universal jurisdiction as it pertains to one nation alone.

It makes a mockery of the entire concept of international law, under which we should all be equal.