UNHRC Condemns Israel, Votes to Probe Incident
The United Nations Human Rights Council on Wednesday in Geneva issued a condemnation of Israel's interception of a six-ship flotilla intent on violating the country's territorial waters off Gaza.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israeli reporters that "we have no reason to fear a commission of inquiry."
"Back when we were in Canada, I told the Prime Minister that we do not need to fear, but to establish an open and transparent committee headed by a senior Israeli jurist." Lieberman said that foreign observers could participate as well. He suggested former Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar, former Justice Minister Prof. Daniel Friedman or Prof. Amnon Rubinstein to head the committee.
The UNHRC said it would establish its own independent fact-finding mission into the violent confrontation that ensued after Muslim extremists attacked Israeli commandos when they boarded one of the vessels, the Turkish Mavi Marmara.
The Council called for “an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance.”
The resolution was proposed by the Palestinian Authority – recognized as “Palestine” in the world body -- as well as by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference, and by Sudan on behalf of Arab States. It passed with a majority of 32 votes. The United States, Italy and Netherlands voted against the resolution. France and England abstained, as did six others.
U.S. Ambassador Eileen Donahue commented on the vote, “Unfortunately, the resolution before us rushes to judgment on a set of facts that, as our debate over the last day makes clear, are only beginning to be discovered and understood.”
The Ambassador from the Netherlands added in support that the Council “should not overstep the resolution made by the United Nations Security Council, that did not call for forming an independent fact-finding committee.”
An attempt earlier in the week by the Arab bloc to force the U.N. Security Council to pass a similar resolution condemning Israel and establishing a Goldstone-type investigation was stymied by the United States.
The bloody confrontation began early Monday with so-called “peace activists” hauling the commandos off the lines from which they were being lowered to the ship from a Navy helicopter – after which they beat them with metal rods and clubs, and stabbed them with knives.
The commandos, who had not been expecting serious violence, were armed only with paintball guns and pistols – which they had orders not to fire. One was hurled by the terrorists from the upper deck to the deck below.
It took 20 minutes for the Israeli commandos to secure permission to use their pistols and fire back at their attackers, some of whom had already snatched the guns and fired at several soldiers. When it was all over, nine of the Muslim attackers were dead. Seven Israeli Naval commandos were wounded, including two who suffered severe injuries and one soldier who was stabbed in the stomach.