'No One Was safe': UN Inquiry into Israel's Flotilla Raid
WASHINGTON - ‘No one was safe,’ once Israeli soldiers began using live ammunition
on board the Mavi Marmara, says an authoritative UN investigation team
into the Israeli attacks on the Gaza aid flotilla.
Their report is now going to be considered by the
57-member UN Human Rights Council that has the chance to finally ensure
that Israel is held accountable for committing what the UNFFM found to
be serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law including war
crimes of wilful killing and torture.
The UNFFM found that Israeli military personnel used
‘incredible violence’ against civilians who the investigators describe
as ‘persons genuinely committed to the spirit of humanitarianism’. These
persons include the British passengers who were on board the Gaza-bound
aid flotilla. They have both welcomed the findings of the UN inquiry -
which found a strong prima facie case of the commission of several war
crimes – and have urged UK government and Human Rights Council members
to refer these war crimes allegations to the International Criminal
British passenger Alex Harrison, a 32 year old
activist, responded to the report by saying, “I sincerely welcome the UN
mission's confirmation that Israel's siege on Gaza is an unlawful
collective punishment and their finding that the attack on our flotilla
was unjustified and brutal.”
The report affirmed the Gaza blockade and flotilla
interception as illegal. These findings underscore the legal arguments
put forward by lawyers who have been working with the passengers since
31st May and supported in part by the Human Rights Legal Aid Fund (www.humanrightsfund.org).
The Mission recommends that the perpetrators of the
attacks should be brought to justice. The Mission has indicated that
these breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention could give rise to
individual criminal responsibility.
Daniel Machover, partner at London law firm Hickman
and Rose, advising 29 of the 33 British passengers, said: “It is
essential that the British Government now stops sitting on the fence and
comes out very clearly in support of the protection and enforcement of
human rights, including of their own nationals, several of whom were
subject to some serious human rights violations and war crimes. That
means the Government must refer the war crimes cases to the ICC without
delay and must demand in clear terms that the Israeli authorities return
every single item of property unlawfully seized from the British
passengers, failing which the Government will take diplomatic measures
and provide state funding for the passengers to bring civil and criminal
claims in Israel.”
Mary Nazzal-Batayneh, Chairperson of the Human Rights
Legal Aid Fund said, “This is a huge first step, however, we all still
have a lot of work to do to make sure that these cases are pursued in
court, securing genuine sanctions for the perpetrators and civil and
criminal remedies for the survivors. As we all know, Israel has ignored
UN criticism in the past and will continue to do so unless we take
action to hold them genuinely to account. The nature of the attacks on
the flotilla, against international passengers, creates unique legal
opportunities to do so.”
The passengers and the Human Rights Legal Aid Fund
have launched a fundraising campaign in order to ensure that cases are
launched to make the UN’s findings enforceable in international courts.
1. A summary of the Key Findings is available at http://www.humanrightsfund.org/hrlaf-news/79-un-inquiry-into-flotilla-raid-key-findings.html
2. A selection of eyewitness testimonies heard by the UN FFM: http://www.humanrightsfund.org/hrlaf-news/78-un-inquiry-into-gaza-flotilla-raid-eyewitness-testimonies.html
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The Palestine Legal Aid Fund is a global human rights fund to enable access to justice for the Palestinian people.