Israeli probe: Gaza blockade, flotilla’s interception were legal
Despite the regrettable loss of life, Israeli soldiers acted professionally, with restraint and only in self-defense against the violent resistance they encountered when they boarded the Turkish Mavis Marmora on May 31, 2010 to intercept the flotilla on its way to break Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. This was a key findings of a commission of inquiry appointed by the Israeli government after the deaths of eight Turkish activists and a Turkish American aboard the Turkish vessel.
The commission was headed by retired judge Yaacov Turkel and included Northern Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lord David Trimble and Canadian former judge advocate general Kenneth W. Watkin. The final report handed Sunday, Jan. 23 to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was approved unanimously.
The panel also ruled the Israeli naval blockade on the Gaza Strip is legal and fully meets the obligations of international law citing the 1994 San Remo guidelines in view of the thousands of attacks Hamas has launched since it seized the Gaza Strip in 2007. Israeli is fully entitled to maintain a naval blockade on this territory in the interests of its security to prevent deliveries of military hardware by sea. There is no suggestion of "collective punishment," said the panel. Israel abided by all its commitments under international law to keep the Gaza population supplied with its basic needs in cooperation wit the Palestinian Authority.
In contrast, the Marmora carried no humanitarian aid for the Gaza population, only a large group of members of the IHH which supports Hamas. They waited on the deck and greeted the Israeli soldiers landing there with knives, chains, glass shards, slings and other weapons. Some had left word they intended to die as "martyrs." The Turkish activists launched the violence. The Israeli soldiers were ordered not to use force except in self-defense.
At the same time, the commission criticized the government for failing to adequately prepare the IDF for the presence of the IHH group.