B’nai B’rith International welcomes the finding of a United Nations “panel of inquiry,” led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza and the May 31, 2010, Israeli flotilla raid seeking to violate it were justified.
In contrast with a separate U.N. Human Rights Council “fact finding mission” that had prejudged Israel as guilty, both Israel and Turkey participated in the Palmer panel, commissioned by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The report suggested that the Turkish government could and should have done more to prevent the maritime provocation by the Turkish extremist group IHH.
This report finally validates and vindicates Israel’s right to defend itself.
The Mavi Marmara was one of six so-called humanitarian ships that had attempted to break through a blockade meant to prevent weapons-smuggling into Hamas-controlled Gaza. The report does, however, unfairly criticize as “excessive and unreasonable” the force the Israel Defense Forces used while intercepting the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship—a vessel on which Israeli naval commandos were assaulted.
“Whatever efforts it undertakes in self-defense, Israel is inevitably accused of employing disproportionate force,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “The fact that violence did not ensue on other ships headed for Gaza demonstrates that Israeli soldiers never sought confrontation, but were, in this instance, forced into it. The report exposes last year’s flotilla as another example of reckless political gamesmanship.”
Israel instituted its blockade of Gaza in response to the actions of Hamas: the control that terrorist group has seized in the coastal territory and its incessant rocket attacks on the Jewish state. At the same time, Israel facilitates importation of humanitarian supplies and materials vital to the area’s residents, and had offered to receive goods from the ships at a safe port and truck them into Gaza.
“Israel responded legally and professionally to the security threat to Israeli citizens that these ships posed,” said Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “This report is a positive first step in correcting the record at the United Nations that has been bent on vilifying Israel.”
Israel itself established a public commission, led by former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, to conduct an exhaustive investigation into the flotilla episode. The body found that Israel’s military acted in accordance with international laws and practices.