UN calls Israeli raid on flotilla 'excessive'

Inquiry panel says Israel should pay compensation for 2010 attack on aid vessels but says Gaza blockade is legal.

    Nine people died when Israeli forces attacked the Mavi Marmara, which was en route to Gaza as part of a flotilla [AFP]

    A United Nations-mandated inquiry into a deadly Israeli raid on a Turkish-led aid flotilla to Gaza in 2010 says Israel's action was "excessive", according to extracts published on Thursday by the New York Times.

    The report, which has not yet been officially released amid a dispute between Israel and Turkey, says that Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip is legal, however.

    Eight Turkish nationals and an American man of Turkish descent died in the May 31, 2010, raid.

    "Israel's decision to board the vessels with such substantial force at a great distance from the blockade zone and with no final warning immediately prior to the boarding was excessive and unreasonable," the inquiry says.

    Hamas, which controls Gaza, said the inquiry into the flotilla aid bound for Gaza was "unjust" and lacked balance.

    'Acted recklessly'

    The UN investigation into the events on the Turkish-flagged ship known as the Mavi Marmara, the largest of six vessels that were commandeered by Israeli commandos on May 31, 2010, was headed by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, a former prime minister of New Zealand, aided by Alvaro Uribe, the former Colombian president, along with a representative each from Israel and Turkey.

    It said, however, that the six-vessel flotilla "acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade" set up by Israel around Gaza.

    The inquiry called for Israel to make "an appropriate statement of regret" for the raid and pay compensation to the families of the dead as well as to injured victims.

    Turkey and Israel should resume full diplomatic relations "repairing their relationship in the interests of stability in the Middle East," the report says.

    Turkish demand

    Turkey has demanded an apology from Israel for the raid, but Binyamin Netanyahu's government has refused several times to make such a gesture.

    Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, told the Hurriyet daily: "If Israel does not apologise and does not declare a willingness to financially compensate the families of the dead and those injured, Turkey will
    put in place certain sanctions."

    Publication of the report has been delayed several times because of the diplomatic tensions between the two sides.

    The report is expected to be handed over to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday, prior to publication.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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