Published on Thursday, September 23, 2010 by The Telegraph/UK
Israeli troops broke international law by storming an aid flotilla bound for Gaza, according to a UN inquiry, which found that the killings of activists on-board were comparable to "summary executions".
The sharply critical report found there was "clear evidence to support prosecutions" against
Pro-Palestinian activists gather around an Israeli commando on board the Gaza-bound Turkish ship Mavi Marmara in the international waters of
A spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry accused the body of having a "politicised and extremist approach," adding: "The Human Rights Council blamed
The investigation mounted by the Council has largely been superseded by a separate inquiry launched by Ban Ki-Moon, the UN secretary general, which has won the backing of the
This investigation, which is being headed by Geoffrey Palmer, the former prime minister of
In an unprecedented move, Israel agreed to co-operate with Mr Palmer's inquiry in August , largely in an attempt to diminish the credibility of the Human Rights Council investigation.
Israel maintains that its soldiers acted in self-defence after coming under attack from activists wielding clubs, axes and metal rods.
However the report found that Israeli commandos' response to the flotilla was disproportionate and "betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality".
"The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel towards the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence," the report said.
"The circumstances of the killing of at least six of the passengers were in a manner consistent with an extralegal, arbitrary and summary execution," it added.
The 56-page report also said that the Israeli blockade was itself unlawful, because of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, meaning Israel's claim that it was entitled to use force to defend the blockade should be dismissed.
The Human Rights Council, a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly, has courted controversy for its excessive focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While it has passed over a dozen resolutions condemning
Israel, which has also launched its own domestic inquiry into the raid on the aid flotilla, refused to co-operate with the council's probe.
But Hamas, the Islamist group which controls
The inquiry was completed by Karl Hudson-Phillips, a former judge of the International Criminal Court in
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