International organizations reaction to the attack
A statement from the UN strongly condemning Israel
The UN Security Council condemned Israel for the death of civilians that occurred during the operation, and demanded an independent investigation. In the statement by the head of the Council it said “The council condemns those acts which resulted in the death of at least 10 civilians and many wounded” and also said “The Security Council calls for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards.”
Organization of Islamic Conferences: Israel practiced “state terror”
Immediately after the Israeli attack, Foreign Ministers of the countries that were members of the Organization of Islamic Conferences (OIC) gathered in Jeddah. As a result of this meeting in Jeddah, the brutal aggression by Israel was condemned; Israel’s aggression was defined as “piracy” and “state terrorism.” It was also stated that Israel violated international law. Countries that are members of OIC called for the necessary steps to be taken within the scope of international law and emphasized the need to lift the blockade in Gaza immediately.
Arab League condemned Israel
Amr Moussa, General Secretary of the Arab League said “We condemn this crime against a humanitarian mission and people. They were trying to help people. They were not on a military mission. Everyone should condemn this.”
African Union condemned Israel
African Union condemned the raid on the humanitarian aid Flotilla and called upon the international community for lift of the blockade in Gaza.
European Parliament strongly condemned the Flotilla attack
President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek called upon Israel to “explain its actions immediately.” Buzek: “As the European Parliament, we strongly condemn the blockade imposed on Gaza.”
Amnesty International: Excessive force was used
Amnesty International said the attack that resulted in the death of 10 individuals taking humanitarian aid to Gaza must be fully investigated. Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa said “Israel clearly used excessive force.”
Human Rights Watch: The attack must be investigated immediately
Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that they were deeply concerned about the Israeli attack on the humanitarian aid Flotilla. HRW said there could have been an illegal disproportion of forced used in the attack. HRW stated that the Israeli commandos used a fatal proportion of force and said a credible and independent investigation must begin urgently.
The states reactions to the attack
UN Security Council held an emergency meeting
After Israel’s attack on the humanitarian aid Flotilla on May 31, Ahmet Davudoğlu, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs called upon the UN Security Council for an emergency meeting. At the UN Security Council meeting on June 1, Davudoğlu asked the UN to begin an urgent investigation. Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davudoğlu said “This action was totally inappropriate. Israel’s conduct is a deep violation of international law. In the easiest terms, this is tantamount to banditry and piracy. This is a crime carried out by the state. Just as there is no excuse, there is also no justification in these actions. A nation or state that acts in this way has lost its legitimacy of being a respected member of the international public.”
Guido Westerwelle, German Minister of Foreign Affairs said he was “deeply concerned” over the raid on the ships transporting aid to Gaza. He also said an extensive, transparent and credible investigation was necessary.
The Foreign Ministry condemned the raid carried out in international waters. Argentina, that announced it deeply regrets the loss of human lives, called for a complete investigation into the incident, and demanded an immediate end to the Gaza blockade and acts of violence that worsen the situation.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd: “The Australian government deplores any violence and death. The Israeli government must begin an independent investigation at once and share the findings of this investigation with the UN Security Council.”
Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger: “The Israeli attack was shocking. Light has to be shed on this inhumane attack without leaving any doubt.”
The Belgium Minister of Foreign Affairs Steven Vaneckere stated that Israel carried out a “disproportionate” attack on the ships carrying aid to Gaza. He added that Israel opting to use disproportionate force to this extent was “extremely distressing.”
Brazil recalled its ambassador to Israel. Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs said “We could not have been more shocked. I hope the UN Security Council will accept a strong declaration. We are in need of action from the UN because this attack will certainly leave deep scars. We hope the UN will take measures and Israel complies with the demands.”
Spokesman of the Foreign Ministry Ma Zhaoxu said “We condemn the Israeli attack on the Flotilla transporting humanitarian aid to Gaza, we expect the UN to take quick action.”
Foreign Minister Lene Esperson said she condemned the extreme forced used by Israel. Immediately after the raid on the humanitarian aid Flotilla, the Copenhagen ambassador to Israel was called to the ministry.
Mahmud Abbas, President of Palestine declared three day national mourning in Palestine. The Palestine government asked the UN Security Council to arrange an emergency meeting. Ismail Haniya, leader of the Hamas administration described the Israeli intervention on the ships as a “cruel attack.” In his statement to the press, Haniya said “We call on the Secretary-General of the U.N., Ban Ki-moon to shoulder his responsibilities to protect the safety of the solidarity groups who were on board these ships and to secure their way to Gaza.” Additionally, after the attack by Israeli soldiers on the ships carrying aid to Gaza, Hamas called upon the Arabs and Muslims to “protest” in front of the Israeli Consulates.
In his statement, French President, Nicolas Sarkozy accused Israel of a “disproportionate use of force.” In the statement from the Elysée Palace, it said Sarkozy “condemned the disproportional use of force and sent his condolences to the families of the victims.” In the statement it said “the details of this tragedy that shows the urgent need of starting the peace process again must be revealed from every aspect.” French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner explained that the raid organized by Israel on the aid ships to Gaza was “extremely shocking” and demanded an inquiry into the incident.
SOUTH AFRICAN REPUBLIC
The Republic of South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel. In a statement by Ebrahim İsmail Ebrahim, South African Republic’s Deputy Minister of International Relations, he said “We recalled our ambassador to show we strongly condemn the attack. The recent attack on the aid Flotilla by Israel has seriously damaged the efforts of finding a solution to the problems in the region.”
Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen: “I am very shocked over the deaths which are deplorable. The Netherlands wants an inquiry to determine exactly how this happened.”
In a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it said this was an illegal operation carried out in international waters; the Indonesian government will be in collaboration with international organizations in terms of Israel accounting for these actions.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said the attack on the ships was “completely unacceptable”; that the blockade on Gaza should be lifted without delay, and also emphasized the importance of humanitarian aid reaching the region. Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was saddened at the loss of lives and called for the opening of all the passages to deliver aid to Gaza. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said “there is a clear need for Israel to act with restraint and in line with international obligations.” Tony Blair, representative of Quartet Middle-East said he was shocked at the raid on the international humanitarian aid Flotilla to Gaza and demanded an inquiry into the incident.
Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee strongly condemned the Israeli raid. The committee said “The Zionist Israeli regime is the greatest threat to world peace and security. Israel, the Zionist regime is committing war crimes” and called upon the OIC, UN Security Council and international community to take action.
Foreign Minister Michael Martin: “I am gravely concerned about the raid by the Israeli military on a Flotilla that was on a humanitarian aid mission. An attack of this kind is totally unacceptable.”
Secretary of State for the EU Diego Lopez Garrido: “Spain unequivocally condemns the Israeli attack on the humanitarian Flotilla and it does so as a country, and as the acting president of the EU Council. Spain has summoned the Israeli ambassador to ask him for explanations of the attack.”
Swedish Foreign Secretary Carl Bildt: “This attack is an international diplomatic crisis. EU countries have clearly condemned Israel since the very beginning of the attack.”
Foreign Minister Franco Frattini: “We were shocked by the attack on the ships. I deplore in the strongest terms the killing of civilians. This is certainly a grave act. We demand a detailed investigation into the incident. EU should be included in this investigation and the truth must be revealed.”
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Emir of Qatar who referred to the attack as an “act of piracy” called upon those who preach justice and democracy to act on lifting the blockade in Gaza. The Foreign Minister: “We strongly condemn this criminal and illegal attack by the Israeli government. This illegal, cruel blockade must be lifted immediately. This is an opportunity for us to renew our support for the Palestinians, we support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state of which Eastern Jerusalem will be the capital.” Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri: “The Israeli attack has inflamed the struggle in the region. The international community should take action.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman: “The Israeli raid in international waters is a serious violation of international law. UN Security Council must hold an emergency meeting.”
Egypt opened its Rafah border crossing with Gazza to allow the transportation of necessary medical and humanitarian aid, and the transit of the ill and injured.
Government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo: “Nicaragua has suspended its diplomatic relations with the Israeli government. Israel has clearly violated international and humanitarian law. ”
Strongly condemning the attack, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Ghar Store demanded the immediate lift of the blockade on Gaza.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi: “Pakistan strongly condemns the attack on the humanitarian aid convoy. The Israeli raid on the ships transporting aid to Gaza is a violation of international law.”
Russian Foreign Minister: “A full investigation on the incident is necessary for light to be shed on all the details. The use of arms against civilians and the detention of the vessels on the high seas without any legal grounds constitute a gross violation of generally accepted international legal norms. At the same time, we consider this incident evidence that the Israeli blockade on Gaza must be lifted immediately, and the necessary steps taken in improving the humanitarian and social situation of the people in Gaza.” Saudi Arabia that said Israel had committed a massacre called upon the international community to “fulfill their responsibilities towards the Israeli aggression.”
Syria prepared an official memorandum calling an emergency meeting of the Arab League Council to discuss the outcome of Israel’s attack on the aid ships. A statement by the Chilean Foreign Ministry said they are saddened by the Israeli attack on civilians, and condemned the use of such force particularly in international waters.
Prime Minister Erdoğan: The raid was “state terror” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: “No matter what the reason, this attack by the Israelis is state terror contrary to international law, the Israeli government has clearly proved that it does not want peace in the region. This not only a threat to peace in the region, but also an action that will bring no peace for its own people. They must know that we will not remain silent and unresponsive to this inhumane attack.”
Vatican press spokesman who stated that the situation is being monitored with great concern said: “It’s a very painful fact, especially for the unnecessary loss of human life.”
Prime Minister John Key: “This incident is tragic and totally unacceptable. Obviously we are very concerned. We condemn this aggression that caused loss of human lives.”
UN Mavi Marmara Report Conclusions
Speaking about the military operation Israel organized on the ships carrying aid to Gaza, Greek Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dimitris Droutsas said “Nothing can justify the use of such violence, we condemn this attack.” He summoned the Israeli ambassador to Athens and related his response to the attack. Additionally, he also cancelled a joint Greek-Israeli military exercise code named “Minoas 2010.”
260. The attack on the Flotilla must be viewed in the context of the ongoing problems between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority and people. In carrying out its task, the Mission was exposed to the depth of conviction on both sides of the correctness of their respective positions. Similar disasters are likely to reoccur unless there is a dramatic shift in the existing paradigm. It must be remembered that might and strength are enhanced when attended by a sense of justice and fair play. Peace and respect have to be earned, not bludgeoned out of any opponent. An unfair victory has never been known to bring lasting peace.
261. The Mission has come to the firm conclusion that a humanitarian crisis existed on the 31 May 2010 in Gaza. The preponderance of evidence from impeccable sources is too overwhelming to come to a contrary opinion. Any denial of this cannot be supported on any rational grounds. One of the consequences flowing from this is that for this reason alone the blockade is unlawful and cannot be sustained in law. This is so regardless of the grounds on which one seeks to justify the legality of the blockade.
262. Certain results flow from this conclusion. Principally, the action of the Israel Defense Force in intercepting the Mavi Marmara on the high seas in the circumstances and for the reasons given was clearly unlawful. Specifically, the action cannot be justified in the circumstances even under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations.
263. Israel seeks to justify the blockade on security grounds. The State of Israel is entitled to peace and security like any other. The firing of rockets and other munitions of war into Israeli territory from Gaza constitute serious violations of international law and of international humanitarian law. But any action in response, which constitutes collective punishment of the civilian population in Gaza, is not lawful in any circumstances.
264. 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. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality. Such conduct cannot be justified or condoned on security or any other grounds. It constituted a grave violation of human rights law and international humanitarian law.
265. The Mission considers that several violations and offences have been committed. It is not satisfied that, in the time available, it has been able to compile a comprehensive list of all offences. However, there is clear evidence to support prosecutions of the following crimes within the terms of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention:
• Willful killing;
• Torture or inhuman treatment;
• Willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health.
The Mission also considers that a series of violations of Israel’s obligations under international human rights law have taken place, including:
• Right to life (art. 6, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights);
• Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (art.
7, International Covenant; Convention against Torture);
• Right to liberty and security of the person and freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention (art. 9, International Covenant);
• Right of detainees to be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person (art. 10, International Covenant);
• Freedom of expression (art. 19, International Covenant).
The right to an effective remedy should be guaranteed to all victims. The mission must not be understood to be saying that this is a comprehensive list by any means.
266. The Mission notes that the retention by the Israeli authorities of unlawfully seized property remains a continuing offence and Israel is called upon to return such property forthwith.
267. The perpetrators of the more serious crimes, being masked, cannot be identified without the assistance of the Israeli authorities. They reacted in a violent manner when they thought that anyone was attempting to identify them. The Mission sincerely hopes that there will be cooperation from the Government of Israel to assist in their identification with a view to prosecuting the culpable and bringing closure to the situation.
268. The Mission is aware that this is not the first time that the Government of Israel has declined to cooperate with an inquiry into events in which its military personnel were involved. On this occasion the Mission accepts the assurances of the Permanent Representative of Israel that the position which he was directed to defend was in no way directed towards the members of the Mission in their personal capacities. It is nonetheless regrettable that, on yet another occasion of an enquiry into events involving loss of life at the hands of the Israeli military, the Government of Israel has declined to cooperate in an inquiry not appointed by it or on which it was significantly represented.
269. The Mission regrets that its requests to the Permanent Mission of Israel for information were not entertained. The reason initially given was that the Government of Israel had established its own independent panel of distinguished persons to investigate the Flotilla incident. The Mission was told that for that reason, and also because the Secretary-General had announced the establishment of another distinguished panel with a similar mandate, that “an additional Human Rights Council initiative in this regard [are] both unnecessary and unproductive.”
270. The Mission did not agree with that position and for that reason suggested to the Permanent Representative of Israel that he should direct to the Council and not the Mission a request that the Mission defer submitting its report to permit other enquiries to complete their tasks. The Mission has not received any direction from the Council to date and considers that it would have been obligated to respond positively to any such directive from the Council.
271. In the light of the fact that the Turkel Committee and the Secretary-General’s panel have not concluded their sittings, the Mission will refrain from any remarks which are capable of being construed as not allowing those bodies to complete their tasks “unfettered by external events”. The Mission confines itself to the observation that public confidence in any investigative process in circumstances such as the present is not enhanced when the subject of an investigation either investigates himself or plays a pivotal role in the process.
272. Elsewhere in this report the Mission has referred to the fact that it found it necessary to reinterpret its mandate because of the manner in which the resolution appointing it was couched. It is important in the drafting of matters of the sort that the impression is not given of the appearance of any prejudgment. The Mission took particular care at the first opportunity to indicate that it interpreted its mandate as requiring it to approach its task without any preconceptions or prejudices. It wishes to assure all concerned that it has held to that position scrupulously.
273. All the passengers on board the ships comprising the Flotilla who appeared before the Mission impressed the members as persons genuinely committed to the spirit of humanitarianism and imbued with a deep and genuine concern for the welfare of the inhabitants of Gaza. The Mission can only express the hope that differences will be resolved in the short rather than the long term so that peace and harmony may exist in the area.
274. Nine human beings lost their lives and several others suffered serious injuries. From the observations of the Mission, deep psychological scars have been inflicted by what must have been a very traumatic experience not only for the passengers but also the soldiers who received injuries. The members of the Mission sympathize with all concerned and in particular with the families of the deceased.
concerned and in particular with the families of the deceased.
275. The Mission is not alone in finding that a deplorable situation exists in Gaza. It has been characterized as “unsustainable”. This is totally intolerable and unacceptable in the twenty-first century. It is amazing that anyone could characterize the condition of the people there as satisfying the most basic standards. The parties and the international community are urged to find the solution that will address all legitimate security concern of both Israel and the people of Palestine, both of whom are equally entitled to “their place under the heavens”. The apparent dichotomy in this case between the competing rights of security and to a decent living can only be resolved if old antagonisms are subordinated to a sense of justice and fair play. One has to find the strength to pluck rooted sorrows from the memory and to move on.
276. The Mission has given thought to the position of humanitarian organizations who wish to intervene in situations of long-standing humanitarian crisis where the international community is unwilling for whatever reason to take positive action. Too often they are accused as being meddlesome and at worst as terrorists or enemy agents.
277. A distinction must be made between activities taken to alleviate crises and action to address the causes creating the crisis. The latter action is characterized as political action and therefore inappropriate for groups that wish to be classified as humanitarian. This point is made because of the evidence that, while some of the passengers were solely interested in delivering supplies to the people in Gaza, for others the main purpose was raising awareness of the blockade with a view to its removal, as the only way to solve the crisis. An examination should be made to clearly define humanitarianism, as distinct from humanitarian action, so that there can be an agreed form of intervention and jurisdiction when humanitarian crises occur.
278. The Mission sincerely hopes that no impediment will be put in the way of those who suffered loss as a result of the unlawful actions of the Israeli military to be compensated adequately and promptly. It is hoped that there will be swift action by the Government of Israel. This will go a long way to reversing the regrettable reputation, which that country has for impunity and intransigence in international affairs. It will also assist those who genuinely sympathize with their situation to support them without being stigmatized.