Israel pressured at UN rights council over flotilla storming

27th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Israel came under pressure at the UN Human Rights Council on Monday to apologise for the storming of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla after a probe found that there was evidence to back prosecutions over the fatal incident.

"All the criminals responsible for this act must be held accountable. Israel must be held accountable for this," a Palestinian envoy told the council.

"The victims must be compensated. Israel must apologise to all those who suffered from this act," he added.

A probe ordered by the UN Human Rights Council into the May 31 incident said last week that there is clear evidence to back prosecution against Israel for killing and torture when its troops stormed the aid ship, leaving nine Turkish activists dead.

The scathing report on the inquiry also threw out Israel's argument that the aid activists were violent, thereby justifying the decision by Israeli soldiers to open fire.

"No arms or weapons of an offensive nature ... were taken on board any of the vessels of the flotilla save for a few catapults," said Karl Hudson-Phillips, who headed the probe, on Monday.

He told the council that "six of the deceased were the victims of summary executions, two of whom were shot after they were severely injured and could not defend themselves."

Turkey said the probe "puts the record straight."

"While reading the report, I could not help asking myself whether the Israeli soldiers have a heart in their chest or a stone?" the Turkish envoy to the UN in Geneva said.

"In such a case, the government concerned would be expected to apologize and take necessary diplomatic and legal action to redress the situation. Alas, Israelis have chosen to enhance their reputation for non-compliance with international law and norms," he said.

From the outset, Israel has rejected the probe as biased.

Israel's ambassador reiterated the country's position on Monday, calling the findings of the probe "one-sided and extreme."

"The terminology, legal interpretations, race to have the first word and the report's intemperate tone, despite all of the calls, despite only hearing from one side, despite access to contrary information in the public domain, all exhibit the problematic nature of this report," said Aharon Leshno Yaar.

© 2010 AFP

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