- On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos willfully and maliciously
interdicted Freedom Flotilla vessels in international waters, bringing
humanitarian aid to besieged Gazans.
- In the process, they slaughtered nine Turkish nationals
aboard the mother Mavi Marmara ship, wounding dozens more, and arresting
everyone on board.
- A same day article described what happened as known at
the time, accessed through the following link:
- It was a well planned premeditated attack against unarmed,
nonviolent humanitarian activists, trying to break Israel's illegal blockade
to deliver essential aid. Cold-blooded murder resulted.
- Under international and US law, blockades are acts of
war, variously defined as:
- -- surrounding a nation or objective with hostile forces;
- -- measures to isolate an enemy;
- -- encirclement and besieging;
- -- preventing the passage in or out of supplies, military
forces, or aid in time of or as an act of war; and
- -- an act of naval warfare to block access to an enemy's
coastline and deny entry to all vessels and aircraft.
- Law Professor Francis Boyle calls blockades:
- "belligerent measures taken by a nation (to) prevent
passage of vessels or aircraft to and from another country. Customary international
law recognizes blockades as an act of war because of the belligerent use
of force even against third party nations in enforcing the blockade. Blockades
as acts of war have been recognized as such in the Declaration of Paris
of 1856 and the Declaration of London of 1909 that delineate the international
rules of warfare."
- America approved these Declarations, so they're binding
US law as well "as part of general international law and customary
international law." Past US presidents, including Dwight Eisenhower
and Jack Kennedy, called blockades acts of war. So has the US Supreme Court.
- Occupied Palestine poses no threat to Israel. In the
past, Israel admitted it. As a result, imposing a blockade violates the
UN Charter and other international and US laws. It's also an illegal act
of aggression that under the Nuremberg Charter constitutes the "supreme
international crime against peace."
- Last September, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), issued
damning findings, "conclud(ing) that 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."
- By imposing an illegal blockade, Israel willfully and
maliciously caused a grave humanitarian crisis, affecting nearly 1.7 million
Gazans, mostly civilians. Aid is vitally needed. Blocking it is a crime
against humanity. Moreover, Israel's international waters interdiction
- A "vessel on the high seas (posing no threat) is
subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of its flag State."
- Under the laws of armed conflict, a blockade is also
- (a) its sole purpose is starving the civilian population
or denying it other essentials for life; or
- (b) the damage to civilians is, or may be expected to
be, excessive in relation to the concrete or direct military advantage
- In other words, no blockade is permitted it it disproportionately
harms civilians. Israel has done it maliciously for over four years, collectively
punishing Gazans illegally, despite admitting no security threat exists.
- HRC said Israel's interdiction was lawless "since
there was no legal basis for the Israeli forces to conduct an assault and
interception in international waters."
- Moreover, in doing so, Israel was "obligated"
to respect international law and its own "international human rights
- HRC thus concluded that force used "was unnecessary,
disproportionate, excessive, inappropriate and resulted in the wholly avoidable
killing and maiming of a large number of civilian passengers."
- In addition, Israel made "a deliberate attempt....to
suppress or destroy evidence," besides fabricating its own version
of events, including fake videos and other falsified materials.
- Despite indisputable crimes against humanity and piracy,
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shamelessly named his own, largely pro-Israeli
commission, mocking justice and his own credibility in the process.
- Former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer chaired
it along with former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe as vice-chairman.
His appalling record in office and contempt for human rights should have
automatically disqualified him.
- Notably, he was tainted by corruption and scandal, with
close links to his country's drug cartels and paramilitary death squads.
As a result, he bore direct responsibility for murdering thousands of trade
unionists, campesinos, human rights workers, journalists, and others opposing
Colombia's narco-state terrorism and ties to US imperialism.
- Nonetheless, he was shamelessly appointed to decide whether
or not Israeli commandos committed high crimes because as Colombia's president,
and now, he staunchly supports the worst of US and Israeli crimes.
- He, Palmer and Joseph Siechanover, former head of Israel's
Defense Mission to the US and Canada, proved their loyalty in contrast
to the commission's fourth member, former Turkish official Ozdem Sanberk,
who likely wanted conclusions other than those reached.
- They were mixed, largely absolving Israel of cold-blooded
murder and condemning its illegal siege.
- The full report can be accessed through the following
- The New York Times obtained it a day ahead of its expected
September 2 release. Writers Neil MacFarquhar and Ethan Bronner headlined,
"Report Finds Naval Blockade by Israel Legal but Faults Raid,"
- The UN report "found that when Israeli commandos
boarded the main (Mavi Marmara) ship they faced 'organized and violent
resistance from a group of passengers' and were therefore required to use
force for their own protection."
- However, it determined that its use was "excessive
and unreasonable," calling deaths and injuries caused as well as Israel's
treatment of passengers abusive.
- Haaretz writer Barak Ravid also covered the story, saying:
- "The report harshly criticizes the flotilla organizers,
stating 'they acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade,'
" adding that "there exist serious questions about the conduct,
true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers, particularly IHH
(a Turkish charity)."
- Also emphasized was that Turkey could have done more
to persuade its nationals not to participate. Nonetheless:
- "Forensic evidence showing that most of the deceased
were shot multiple times, including in the back, or at close range has
not been adequately accounted for in the material presented by Israel."
- The report was ready for publication months ago, but
was delayed to give Turkey more time to press Israel for an apology not
forthcoming. In fact, Israel never says it's sorry, even when caught red-handed.
- Fact check
- As explained in part above:
- (1) Gaza's siege is illegal. Saying otherwise doesn't
wash. Neither Hamas, other Palestinian resistance groups, or the PA threaten
Israel, except in self-defense retaliation against premeditated Israeli
attacks as international law allows.
- (2) All Flotilla participants were unarmed, nonviolent
human rights activists. Nonetheless, they were maliciously attacked in
international waters. Moreover, Israeli commandos had photos of Turkish
nationals marked for assassination. They identified and shot them in cold
blood multiple times at point blank range.
- (3) The UN Human Rights Commission (HRC) examined the
same evidence, holding Israel culpable for high crimes.
- Turkey's Response to the Palmer Commission Report
- On September 1,Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
said the Palmer Report's release constituted Israel's last chance for a
formal apology. Without it, he warned of possible sanctions and other consequences.
- Israel never apologized. Moreover, Netanyahu told US
officials that decision's unchanged. As a result, Turkey may scale back
its diplomatic representation, including expelling Israel's ambassador
(Gabby Levy) and his deputy (Ella Afek).
- Turkey also is expected to initiate a diplomatic and
legal campaign against Israel through the UN, and will help loved ones
of those killed sue Israel in world courts.
- In addition, legal action may be taken against responsible
Israeli officials, including Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, then
Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and Navy Commander
Adm. Eliezer Marom.
- Moreover, billions of dollars of trade between the two
country are at risk.
- Turkey also was angry that the commission mostly adopted
Israeli friendly conclusions. At the same time, Israel was pleased.
- Final Comments
- Absolution is unacceptable. Nonetheless, Israel again
got largely off the hook, free to commit more crimes of war and against
humanity, besides ongoing daily ones in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
- At issue is stopping them, ending Gaza's siege, Israel's
occupation, and granting Palestine statehood and full UN membership later
this month when the UN General Assembly meets.
- Even then, Israeli lawlessness won't end. Perhaps it'll
only be slowed, but any committed will be against a sovereign state able
to sue through the World Court for redress, and be able to get a temporary
restraining order to stop it.
- In other words, sovereign Palestine will have statehood
rights Israel fears. What better way to slap it down, using the power of
the law, not retaliation.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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