Israeli use of force during the boarding of the Gaza Flotilla
Report of the UN’s Human Rights Council.
“Unnecessary, disproportionate, excessive and inappropriate”, or so says the UN Human Rights Council’s report on the Israeli boarding of the Gaza flotilla. Whilst the report, released on Wednesday, deems Israeli interception and boarding of the Gaza Flotilla on the night of 31 May as “unlawful”, the validity of these findings remains questionable. Israeli personnel are strangely absent from the interviews in the released report and in contrast to the UN General Assembly, the lobbying power of the Arab Nations in the Human Rights Council is one of the most significant. The UNHRC has even been criticised by its Ex-President Doru Costea, current UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for having a politicised focus in criticising certain countries, namely Israel. Whilst the report may silence critics of the Council as a talking shop, an apparent bias against Israel undermines the objectivity of the Council and hence the impartiality of the report.
With icy relations between Israel and Turkey that precede the Gaza flotilla incident, the Human Rights Council’s report appears to reemphasise the pre-existing battle-lines drawn between the pro-Palestine and pro-Israel camps. The forthcoming Israeli Turkel Commission into the Gaza flotilla incident and blockade will undoubtedly suffer from a similar fate. Whilst Israel considers that its capacity to investigate its armed forces is adequate and conforms to internationally acceptable standards, as a domestic initiative it is exactly an international acceptability that the Turkel Commission is considered to lack. We (who) are also awaiting yet another report on the incident, this time by the UN Secretary General and estimated to arrive in 2011. Unfortunately its impartiality is already smeared with allegations of political manoeuvring over the mandate. Rather than provide clarity on this contentious issue, the forthcoming reports may further muddy the waters and, by consequence, risk being ignored.