I just read the Israel/Palestine Diary here on the Kos and watched the video on the U.N. Human Rights Council report. Two days ago I published an article on the same report. I'll offer it here at the Daily Kos. Hopefully, It won't get me thrown off the site:(
On the first of June, 2010, the U.N. Human Rights Council, decided to create a fact-finding mission to investigate any violations of international law as a result of Israeli attacks on the Gaza humanitarian aid flotilla in late May, 2010. This week, the long titled "Report of the international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance" was released to the press. That report reveals Israel committed wide-spread crimes against humanity that lead to the murder of nine humanitarian activists and journalists and the wounding of dozens more civilians .
According to the report, Israel committed several serious violations of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions, including willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, sexual humiliation, and willfully causing great suffering of serious injury to body or health. The report concluded Israel behaved inhumanly and subjected the activists to an incredible degree of brutality, including "extra-legal, arbitrary, summary executions."
In the 66 page report, The Human Rights Council reminds the member nations of the U.N. that Israel's blockade of Gaza is unlawful and amounts to collective punishment. The report summarizes the findings of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the collective suffering of the people of Gaza as a result of Israel's illegal blockade. The report further details the treaties Israel has signed regarding the international waters and the laws directly relating to the events surrounding the attack on the Gaza humanitarian aid flotilla. The Human Rights Council concludes;
"Insofar as the Israeli interception of the flotilla was unlawful—and the Mission considers that it was unlawful—the use of force by the Israeli forces in seizing control of the Mavi Marmara and other vessels was also prima facie unlawful since there was no legal basis for the Israeli forces to conduct an assault and interception in international waters. Moreover, in undertaking these operations and regardless of the legality of the operation, the Israeli forces were obliged to do so in accordance with the law, including Israel’s international human rights obligations."
Details of what happened on the lead ship the Mavi Marmara are shocking. The report supports what eye-witnesses on board the Mavi Marmara have been saying and smuggled film footage suggest; that Israeli soldiers began shooting with "live bullets" from helicopters down on the photographers and humanitarian activists before they boarded the ship.
One of the most horrific examples of Israel’s complete disregard for human life is that of the brutal death of 19 year-old Turkish American photographer Furkan Dogan. Dogan was on the top deck filming the invasion when he appeared to be hit in the back, left leg and foot from a distance. However, one shot to the face was different. Here is how the forensic report explained the fatal shot;
"All of the entry wounds were on the back of his body, except for the face wound which entered to the right of his nose. According to forensic analysis, tattooing around the wound in his face indicates that the shot was delivered at point blank range. Furthermore, the trajectory of the wound, from bottom to top, together with a vital abrasion to the left shoulder that could be consistent with the bullet exit point, is compatible with the shot being received while he was lying on the ground on his back."
Another victim of the Israeli assault on the flotilla was Ibrahim Bilgen, a 60-year-old Turkish citizen;
"Forensic evidence shows that he was shot in the side of the head with a soft baton round at such close proximity and that an entire bean bag and its wadding penetrated the skull and lodged in the brain. He had a further bruise on the right flank consistent with another beanbag wound. The wounds are consistent with the deceased initially being shot from soldiers on board the helicopter above and receiving a further wound to the head while lying on the ground, already wounded."
Once Israeli soldiers gained control of the top deck they turned their weapons down on the folks on the second deck and made a turkey shoot of the people scrambling below as they ducked for cover. Several activists grabbed chairs, poles and perhaps kitchen knives (although that has not been confirmed) and began defending themselves and others from the murderous Israeli soldiers. The report reveals video clips of this scene were manipulated and circulated by the Israeli government to make it falsely appear as if it was the Israeli soldiers that were fending off attacks by the activists. The report also concluded;
"In early June 2010, audio recordings were released by the Israeli authorities of apparent exchanges between the Israeli Navy and the Defne Y which included insulting references by unknown persons referring to "Auschwitz" and the 11 September 2001 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York. However, the Mission is not satisfied that these recordings are authentic, nor has the Government of Israel made this material available to the Mission for appropriate examination. The Mission was given positive evidence that no such statements were made by anyone involved in communications on the flotilla."
After the ships were under the command of the Israeli’s, the report further documents torture and a host of other degrading behavior, including sexual harassment on the female passengers. The full report is a cruel horror scene depicting a brutal state acting in complete disregard for human life. It demonstrates just how determined Israel is in punishing anyone that supports the people of Palestine. The report demonstrates just how ruthless and pathologically murderous Israel’s policy to the people of Gaza has become. Israel's complete disregard for human life is once again tragically played-out and documented in the illegal assault of the Gaza humanitarian aid flotilla;
"The Mission is satisfied that much of the force used by the Israeli soldiers on board the Mavi Marmara and from the helicopters was unnecessary, disproportionate, excessive and inappropriate and resulted in the wholly avoidable killing and maiming of a large number of civilian passengers. On the basis of the forensic and firearm evidence, at least six of the killings can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions. As such, the conduct of the Israeli forces amounted to violations of the right to life and of the right to physical integrity, as stipulated in articles 6 and 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."
The report repeatedly points out that the passengers on the flotilla had no weapons on board. The report states that they investigated every member of the flotilla and found they were all "genuinely committed to the spirit of humanitarianism and imbued with a deep and genuine concern for the welfare of the inhabitants of Gaza." The UN Human Rights Council voted this week to endorse the findings of the Mission. The vote to endorse the report was 30 to one. No surprise, the United States was the only country that stood in opposition to the report.