UN Human Rights Council to Probe Israel’s Attack on Gaza Flotilla

A protest rally against Israel's commando raid on a flotilla headed toward Gaza. Photo by: asterix611 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 asterix611CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The U.N. Human Rights Council will organize an international, independent fact-finding mission to probe what the council said were international law violations in Israel’s attack of the aid convoy headed to Gaza on May 31.

The council also condemned Israel’s action in a resolution that Pakistan proposed on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and by Sudan on behalf of the Arab group of nations. The resolution was approved by 34 of the council’s 47 members, Reuters reports.

The resolution sought “for full accountability and credible independent inquiries into these [Israeli] attacks” where at least 10 people were killed.

The U.S. was one of three countries that opposed the resolution, which U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley said was a ”rush to judgment.”

The presence of the UNHRC is positive and construction but Israel is the best party to lead investigations into the attack, Crowley said during a State Department press briefing on June 2.  

Meanwhile, Israel released more of the activists it arrested during the attack on the Gaza-bound aid ship convoy. Hundreds of activists and the bodies of the nine who were killed during the raid were flown to Turkey and Greece. Israel already transported several activists to Jordan on June 1.

A number of the released activists said they were humiliated by the Israelis.

“They were brutal and arrogant, but our message reached every corner of the world that the blockade on Gaza is unfair and should be lifted immediately,” Kuwaiti lawmaker Walid al-Tabtabai said.

News agencies have noted that Israel’s decision to release the activists may be an attempt to quell the international outcry that the country’s action on the aid convoy generated.

However, the outcry may not be enough to force Israel to lift its blockade on Gaza, aid workers said according to Reuters.

“It might help, but I don’t think the Israelis are easily convinced,” Bernard Sabella, head of the ACT Forum in the Palestinian territories, said. “The result could be that Israel will liberalise its policy of shipping in goods but I’m not sure - it’s guessing, or wishing.”

Another aid worker who pleaded anonymity noted that Israel, historically, does not bow to international pressure. Outright condemnation of its past activities, the aid worker said, has prompted Israel to strengthen instead of weaken its policies.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.