Gaza Flotilla Report: IDF Soldiers Acted in Self Defense, but Used Excessive Force

The UN report into the May 2010 lethal flotilla incident, to be published Friday, was obtained by the New York Times; among other findings it determines Gaza blockade legal.

The United Nations Palmer Report on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident, to be published officially Friday, found that the Israeli commandos who boarded the Mavi Marmara on route to the Gaza Strip were met with "organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers," and so were "forced to use self defense." Nine Turkish activists died aboard the ship.

Nevertheless, the report – obtained and published Thursday evening by New York Times - found that the Israeli forces used "excessive and unreasonable force," and emphasized that the loss of life on board the ship is "unacceptable." Moreover, it found that the treatment of the passengers by the IDF soldiers after the interception was "abusive."

Mavi Marmara
Motti Milrod

The Palmer report determined that the Israeli naval blockade on the Gaza Strip is legal, as "Israel faces a security threat from violent groups in Gaza."

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The report harshly criticizes the flotilla organizers, stating "they acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade". It added that there exist serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers, particularly IHH.

The report claimed that the Turkish government tried to persuade the organizers not to sail toward Gaza, "but could have done more."

The interception method employed by Israel also comes under attack in the report, which claims that Israel could have acted non-violently at first and should have warned the passengers of an imminent military operation.

"Forensic evidence showing that most of the deceased were shot multiple times, including in the back, or at close range has not been adequately accounted for in the material presented by Israel," the report claims, yet adds that the soldiers were in a position where they had to defend themselves.

Earlier on Thursday, Turkey declared that it would not tolerate further delay in the release of the report, and warned of consequences including sanctions should Israel continue to refuse to apologize for the incident.

Publication of the Palmer report has been postponed three times. In each case the delay took place following the consent of both Turkey and Israel, and as a result of their joint request to the UN secretary general.

In another reference to the possible consequences that would occur in the eventuality that Israel continued to avoid a public apology for the raid, the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said that Turkey intended to " impose sanctions which both Israel and other international parties are aware of."