U.N. finds Israel's Naval Blockade of Gaza legal


Palestinian Hamas naval policemen gather at the port of Gaza City on May 31, 2010, following a deadly Israel military raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla of aid ships in which several passengers were killed, sparking fury from Turkey and calls for an "uprising" from the Islamist Hamas movement.


Said Khatib

A review by the United Nations, leaked today by the New York Times, has found that Israel's naval blockade of Gaza was legal, and did not violate international law.

However, the report states that Israeli forces used unnecessary force 15 months ago when they boarded a flotilla attempting to break the blockade. The raid on the flotilla, Mavi Marmara, killed nine passengers, seven of whom suffered multiple gunshot wounds.

According to the report, the Israeli commandos' response was "excessive" and "too heavy a response too quickly." The report is 105 pages long, and can be found in its entirety on the New York Times. It states that the panel found that the raid, which occurred on May 31, 2010 "should never have taken place as [it] did and strenuous efforts should be made to prevent the occurrence of such incidents in the future."

Headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and former Colombia Preside Alvaro Uribe, the U.N panel also had members from Turkey and Israel on it. The Secretary-General has yet to read the report, which was to be released Friday, reports VOA.

Turkey and Israel, who had previously had a close relationship, became strained after the incident — Turkey argued that israel had no right to stop the ships in international water, and that their blockade was illegal, according to VOA. Turkey has asked for an apology from Israel, and is upset by the conclusion that the blockade is legal, according to the New York Times. While Israel is willing to "express regret and pay compensation," Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is refusing to apologize, claiming that an apology could be viewed as a message of weakness.