Palmer Report Did Not Find Gaza Blockade Legal, Despite Media Headlines

gaza turkey flotillaThe media has gone crazy these past couple of days announcing that the UN-appointed panel of inquiry into the flotilla raid last summer, known as the Palmer Commission, found that the Israeli imposed blockade on Gaza is legal and that Israel used excessive force during the raid.

From the Jerusalem Post to the BBC, headlines scream that Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip is legal.  This is not only completely false, it distracts from the main point of the inquiry which was to determine if excessive use of force was used by Israeli forces during the raid on the flotilla in international waters and how to avoid a similar incident like this from happening again.

The contents of the Palmer Report were made public Thursday by the New York Times.  The report itself, which was completed last February, was being delayed at the UN while Turkey and Israel negotiated over language and played behind-the-scenes politics.


Israeli Killings of Gaza Ship Activists Must Be Investigated

UPDATE: Amnesty International interim Secretary General Claudio Cordone called for an international inquiry into the deaths caused by the raid on the aid flotilla in international waters outside Gaza today.

Given the international nature of this incident and the continuing lack of credible Israeli investigations into violations of human rights in the context of the Gaza conflict, there is also a need for an immediate international investigation.

The Israeli authorities have the primary responsibility to investigate the use of lethal force by its forces, as well as the claims by Israeli officials that Israeli forces were attacked with a range of weapons. But for full credibility and transparency, Israel should invite the relevant UN experts to carry out an investigation into the events of 31 May.

Beyond this tragedy, however, it is imperative that Israel lifts the blockade of Gaza without delay, as it is a form of collective punishment in contravention of international law and primarily affects the most vulnerable among the population.

Israeli armed forces today stormed a ship carrying supplies for Gaza, killing 10 activists on board. The circumstances remain unclear; however, it appears that Israeli forces have used excessive force. Amnesty International has called for Israel to launch an immediate, credible and independent investigation into the killing. Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, had issued the following statement:

Israeli forces appear clearly to have used excessive force. Israel says its forces acted in self-defence, alleging that they were attacked by protestors, but it begs credibility that the level of lethal force used by Israeli troops could have been justified. It appears to have been out of all proportion to any threat posed.

The killings have drawn strong criticism and worldwide condemnation. The UN is preparing an emergency session for Tuesday.