The Geneva-based HRC is considering a report by the three-member commission that investigated the so-called “flotilla incident” –
During an “interactive dialogue” between the commission and representatives of governments and non-governmental organizations, the jurists were challenged by the non-governmental group U.N. Watch on the issue of the motivation and actions of radicals onboard the Mavi Marmara.
Israel claimed its soldiers acted in self-defense after being attacked by activists wielding iron bars and other weapons.
U.N. Watch had earlier submitted to the commission a package of more than 40 reports, audio and video clips which it said “documented the jihadist intent and actions of the IHH militants on the ship.” U.N. Watch representative Leon Saltiel asked the commission Tuesday why the evidence had been disregarded.
Both the commission head, Trinidadian Judge Karl Hudson-Phillips, and panel member Desmond da Silva, a British jurist, indicated in their response that the intentions and statements of those onboard the boat were irrelevant to their conclusions.
The points raised by U.N. Watch were “not something which would have altered our conclusions as to the lawfulness or otherwise of the Israeli intervention,” Hudson-Phillips said. “It would not have made the blockade lawful, and therefore it would not have made the interception lawful. It could not have changed our thinking in any way.”
Da Silva then added that Saltiel’s comments betrayed an ignorance of the law.
“Even if bin Laden himself was on board the Mavi Marmara it wouldn’t have made the blockade legal.”
Da Silva also mocked the idea that rudimentary weapons in the activists’ possession would have posed a threat to the Israelis.
“Well of course we found a photograph of somebody with a catapult, in the course of making our inquires. No doubt that catapult was there to sink one of the two Israeli submarines that were part of the naval force.”
U.N Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said afterwards it was “astonishing” that the fact-finding commission members acknowledged having disregarded so crucial a matter.
“Contrary to the commissioners’ attempt to downplay this evidence, the truth is that the entire interpretation of the facts hinges on who was the aggressor, and whether
“Evidence that seven of the nine passengers killed in the clash had previously declared their intent to become ‘martyrs’ is something the inquiry obviously should have examined, yet failed to do so,” Neuer added.
The third member of the commission, Mary Shanti Dairiam of
Members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) dominated the session – of 28 countries that spoke during the session, 20 were members of the Islamic bloc – and U.S. ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe was alone in raising concerns about the “unbalanced language, tone and conclusions” of the fact-finding commission’s report.
On Wednesday the HRC is due to vote on a resolution, introduced by the OIC, endorsing the findings of the report.
It is one of at least two expected resolutions condemning
If passed, as is highly likely, they will take to 32 the total number of resolutions critical of
The other 191 U.N. member-states, together, have accounted for just 31 resolutions, applying to 11 countries (