Report says Israel violated international law


ISRAEL HAS rejected a report by three United Nations-appointed human rights experts who concluded that Israeli forces violated international law when they raided a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May, killing nine Turkish activists.

The Israeli foreign ministry accused the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council of anti-Israel bias, politicisation and extremism.

“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 statement said.

“Israel has investigated and is continuing to investigate the flotilla events. A military inquiry has completed its work. Another inquiry with two international observers is continuing its work, and Israel, in an unprecedented step, is also cooperating with a UN probe ordered by secretary general Ban Ki-moon. Today’s report is misleading and biased, as is the body which issued it.”

The Human Rights Council panel said the interception by Israeli naval commandos was “disproportionate” and “displayed an unacceptable level of brutality”. In a 56-page report, the UN panel said: “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 convention is an international treaty governing the protection of civilians in times of war.

“The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel towards the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence,” said the probe.

“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 experts found.

Seven Irish passport-holders were among the international activists detained after Israeli commandos stormed the ships carrying aid supplies to Gaza. They were eventually deported after questioning by Israeli authorities.

The Irish-owned vessel MV Rachel Corrie was one of the vessels in the flotilla, but was making its way to Gaza some days behind the initial ships which were stormed by Israeli troops.

The ship was returned to its owners some time after being seized and taken to Ashdod port.

Examining the circumstances of the raid, the panel concluded that a humanitarian crisis existed in Gaza on the day of the incident in Gaza and “for this reason alone the blockade is unlawful and cannot be sustained in law.”

Israel refused to cooperate with the panel, arguing that the Human Rights Council has a history of anti-Israel resolutions. However, under intense international pressure, Israeli leaders agreed instead to work with a separate UN investigation ordered by Mr Ban. It is being led by former New Zealand’s prime minister Geoffrey Palmer and has yet to publish its findings.

Israeli security guard kills palestinian police storm mosque during riots

ISRAELI POLICE yesterday stormed the al-Aqsa mosque compound on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount during riots which broke out after an Israeli security guard killed a Palestinian resident of the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan.
Dozens of security guards protect hundreds of Jewish settlers who have moved into Silwan.The security guard told police he opened fire in self-defence after Palestinian stone-throwers blocked his route. He claimed his life was in danger.

A 32-year-old was killed, and two other Palestinians were wounded, one seriously. After the shooting, hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets.

After the funeral of the victim angry youths tried to pelt Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall.

Riot police stormed the disputed holy compound of the Temple Mount, and dozens of people barricaded themselves in the al-Aqsa mosque, before the police eventually withdrew.