Mavi Marmara
The Mavi Marmara, aboard which Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla resulted in the deaths of 9 Turkish activists, leaving Haifa on August 5, 2010. Photo by AP
Text size

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu praised Thursday the UN Human Right Council's report on the Gaza flotilla, telling Anatolia news agency that the report was fair, impartial and used strong evidence.

The report, compiled by three United Nations appointed human rights experts, said that Israeli forces violated international law when they raided a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, killing nine activists, earlier this year.

The UN Human Rights Council's fact-finding mission concluded that Israel's naval blockade of the Palestinian territory was unlawful because of the humanitarian crisis there, and described the military raid on the flotilla as brutal and disproportionate.

"We expected the council to release a strong report based on strong evidence, and in this sense the report met our expectations," said Davutoglu. "We hope that Israel will learn to use language of international law and act in line with it."

The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded late Wednesday by saying the Human Rights Council had a biased, politicized and extremist approach.

Israel has maintained that its soldiers acted in self-defense when they shot and killed eight Turkish activists and one Turkish-American aboard the Mavi Marmara on May 31. Israel Defense Forces released footage showing its troops coming under attack as they tried to board the boat.

The Human Rights Council blamed Israel prior to the investigation and it is no surprise that they condemn after, said Andy David, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, referring to the 47-member body's resolution in early June condemning the raid.

Israel refused to cooperate with the panel, preferring instead to work with a separate UN group under New Zealand's former Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and Colombia's former President Alvaro Uribe that is also examining the incident but has yet to publish its findings
"Israel is a democratic and law abiding country that carefully observes international law and, when need be, knows how to investigate itself," the Foreign Ministry statement said.

"That is how Israel has always acted, and that is the way in which investigations were conducted following Operation Cast Lead, launched to protect the inhabitants of southern Israel from rockets and terror attacks carried out by Hamas from Gaza," said the statement.

MK Hanin Zuabi (Balad), who was on board the Mavi Marmara, praised the UN Human Rights Council's report and added that "the criminals" who ordered and carried out the raid should be brought to justice.

Fawzi Barhoum, spokesman for the Islamic militant group Hamas that controls Gaza, said the report emphasized that Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories violates human rights not only against Palestinian people but against innocent people who came to show their sympathy.

"Now it's required to be a mechanism in order to translate this report into action and to bring the occupation commanders to trial for the crimes they committed," Barhoum said.

The Human Rights Council's report was compiled by former U.N. war crimes prosecutor Desmond de Silva, Trinidadian judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips and Malaysian women's rights advocate Mary Shanthi Dairiam. It is scheduled to be presented to the council on Monday

The Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, was re-established in 2006 by then UN Security General, Kofi Annan, following accusations that its predecessor, the UN Commission on Human Rights, openly and systematically discriminated against Israel.

But the new body has also passed several resolutions condemning Israel over the past few years, especially for its actions in the Palestinian territories, and is often of accused of unfair bias against Israel.