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CONTACT: Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Sarah Colborne 020 7700 6192
UN Panel Examining Gaza Flotilla Attack Already Showing its Lack of Teeth
LONDON - August 11 - A UN panel convened to examine Israel's attack on the Gaza flotilla is already displaying its lack of teeth and shows that it will fail to meet the Security Council's demand for a ‘prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation', says the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).
UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky has admitted that the panel has no power to compel anyone to appear and testify before it.
His statement followed Israel's insistence that it would refuse to co-operate with the panel if it called IDF soldiers who took part in the attack as witnesses.
Sarah Colborne, director of campaigns and operations at PSC, who was on board the lead vessel, the Mavi Marmara, said: ‘Any inquiry which fails to examine all the evidence - including the Israeli military involved and the passengers on board, will lack credibility. All photographic and video evidence still being held by Israel, which was illegally seized from the passengers on board, must be released.'
‘Why does Israel want to shield its soldiers from a UN inquiry? The peace activists who sailed on the flotilla have absolutely nothing to hide and, unlike Israel, do not fear an honest investigation into what happened that night.
‘Our flotilla, carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, was attacked in international waters by Israeli troops, who killed nine peace activists and wounded more than 50. We had no arms on board - we were civilians, aged from one to 89 years old, on a humanitarian mission. All boats had been thoroughly checked at their ports of departure. Yet we were shot at with lethal weaponry, held hostage and all our evidence of Israel's crimes was seized from us. The Fourth Geneva Convention says Israel must allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. Its siege on Gaza is illegal - and its lethal attack on the flotilla was illegal'.
Ms Colborne also said the inquiry's remit to ‘examine and identify the facts, circumstances and the context of the incident, as well as to recommend ways to avoid future incident'* did not go far enough.
She said: ‘The UN should abandon a panel which is already showing itself to be ineffective, and hold a robust investigation with the power to compel witnesses to attend, which assigns criminal responsibility for what happened that night.
‘The UN should also act to stop Israel laying siege to Gaza, and end Israel's continual violations of international law.'
Campaigners would not be deterred from taking aid to Gaza, said Ms Colborne: ‘We will be continuing to break the blockade by land and sea. We will not sit by and watch 1.5 million Palestinians suffer from the humanitarian disaster that Israel has created in Gaza'.