A United Nations Human Rights Council investigation into a raid by Israeli troops on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza has found their actions broke international law.
The report condemns the Israeli decision to board the ships - a move which left nine dead – as “disproportionate”, while also outlining “an unacceptable level of brutality”.
Pictured: MV Mavi Marmara was one of the vessels attacked
Moreover, the investigation – led by Judge Karl Hudson-Phillips – found there was clear evidence to support prosecutions against Israel for “wilful killing”.
Following the release of the report Israel reiterated its belief that its troops were acting in self-defence, while branding the investigation “biased” and “one-sided”.
The flotilla was organised by the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) and was conceived as an attempt Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Following a refusal to allow Israeli troops to search the vessels, Israeli Shayetet 13 naval commandos boarded from speedboats.
While they were met with passive resistance on five of the ships, clashes broke out aboard the MV Mavi Marmara.
Israel insists it was right to board the vessels, believing they were carrying weapons to Palestinian militias.
Those aboard the vessels were held captive in Israel before being deported.
Many of those killed were Turkish, generating widespread animosity between the former allies.
Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu has rejected the report’s findings
The panel had interviewed more than 100 witnesses in Britain, Jordan, Switzerland Turkey, but not in Israel, in order to gain an understanding of the events leading up to the incident.
Following the investigation the blockage of Gaza was branded “illegal” on humanitarian grounds, while the UN warned of evidence to support prosecution in a number of areas.
“There is clear evidence to support prosecutions of the following crimes within the terms of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: wilful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health,” read the report.
In August 2010, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the UN will conduct a further investigation of the incident.
Israel has agreed to participate in this investigation.