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Dueling UN Flotilla I Commissions

mavi-marmaraLast September, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), issued its damning findings on Israel's Flotilla I massacre, killing nine and wounding dozens of peaceful humanitarian activists heading for Gaza with aid.

As a result, HRC:

"concluded 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."

Under international law, Israel's blockade is illegal. Imposing it 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 was piracy.

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 illegal if:

(a) it has the sole purpose of starving the civilian population or denying it other objects essential for its survival; or

(b) the damage to the civilian population is, or may be expected to be, excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the blockade."

In other words, no blockade is permitted it it inflicts disproportionate harm to 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" under international law and its own "international human rights obligations."

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."

Moreover, 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 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, responsible for murdering thousands of trade unionists, campesinos, human rights workers, journalists, and others opposing Colombia's narco-state terrorism and ties to US imperialism.

On July 7, Reuters headlined, "UN report on Gaza flotilla delayed to enable Israeli-Turkey talks," saying:

The Palmer/Uribe report "will be published on July 27 after delays to" allow more time to resolve disputes between Israel and Turkey. Nonetheless, Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steiniz expects a favorable ruling for Israel, saying:

"From what we understand, the report justifies the (Gaza) blockade. It (calls it) legitimate, (and) that Israel took legitimate steps," despite indisputable international law otherwise, what no UN or other commission can reverse.

As a result, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said "an outcome that contradicts the UN Human Rights Commission report will be unacceptable" because Turkish citizens (a Turkish American among them with duel citizenships) were willfully targeted and murdered in cold blood, some shot multiple times at point blank range, including in the head.

On July 7, Turkey's Today's Zaman writers Sezai Kalayci  and Emine Kart headlined, "UN to advise Israel to offer apology and pay compensation to Turkey," saying:

"Although the report is complete, it has not officially been released yet." It's expected to call Israel's siege legal. If so, "it would spark a harsh reaction from Turkey."

An anonymous Turkish official said:

"If they really drafted a report saying that the blockage is legal, then it means that they do not have the slightest idea about international law. Drafting such a report would mean that they are not relying on international legal norms but instead, they are creating a new international legal norm that does not actually exist."

The official added that legalizing Israel's blockade will render the report "legally invalid." Moreover, Israel's international waters massacre was lawless cold-blooded murder. Those responsible should be held fully accountable and prosecuted.

Kalayci and Kart did say the report blames Israel for prematurely using force and causing "unacceptable" deaths with no "explanation" given to justify them. Nonviolent options, in fact, are mandated. Instead, Israel resorted to violence against unarmed peaceful activists, not terrorists as unjustly claimed.

Moreover, Turkey has autopsy evidence showing the brutality of Israel's attack, whether or not the report will say so.

On July 7, AFP headlined, "Israel-Turkey flotilla talks 'break down,' " saying:

The UN report "accused Israel of using force prematurely and causing 'unacceptable' deaths (that) killed nine" Turkish citizens in May 2010. "Israel and Turkey failed to reach agreement." Nonetheless, both sides are trying to resolve differences, reach agreement, and end months of strained relations.

On July 8, Reuters headlined, "Turkey PM: Israel must still apologize for last year's Gaza flotilla raid," saying:

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan "said on Friday that it was 'unthinkable' to normalize ties with Israel" without an apology for killing nine Turkish citizens. He also stated two other normalizing conditions, including lifting Gaza's siege and paying compensation to  survivors of victims killed and directly to those injured. Moreover, he called attacking the Mavi Marmara mother ship an "atrocious event, (violating) all international laws and values...."

On July 6, the Mossad-connected DEBKAfile headlined, "Erdogan again shuts the door on Israel when UN affirms Gaza blockade legal," saying:

Discussions "between Israeli and Turkish delegations broke down when it became apparent that the Turkish side demanded that the Palmer report be rewritten to clear its prime minister of a faulty policy decision."

Moreover, Turkey's Foreign Minister Davutoglu again demanded an Israeli apology "as a must to reestablish relations....But this is not going to happen."

Both Netanyahu and Foreign Minister/Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman pledged no apology would be forthcoming because there was "no reason to bow to humiliation or allow Israeli soldiers to be wrongfully accused."

However, DEBKA believes Erdogan will restore ties with Israel after the UN report "storm blows over and it is safely tucked away in UN archives." Washington's ambassador to Turkey suggested it saying, "We believe that the two countries will work together again." Realpolitik usually trumps rule of law, right over might, and other less important issues.


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