Turkey's National Inquiry and Investigation Commission on Sunday expressed regret over the national investigation process in Israel over the attack on Mavi Marmara flotilla, Anadolu Agency reported.
The National Inquiry and Investigation Commission, established to probe Israel's attack on Mavi Marmara, said, "our Commission is surprised, appalled and dismayed that the national inquiry process in Israel has resulted in the exoneration of the Israeli armed forces despite all the facts that have also been confirmed by the International Fact-Finding Mission".
The Commission released a statement after its meeting on Sunday, saying that "Israel's attack against the humanitarian aid convoy, which violated both wartime and peacetime international law, has also trampled all international principles, rules and norms with the manner in which it was conducted."
"On 31 May 2010, Israeli armed forces attacked, on the high seas, a convoy brought together by aid volunteers from 37 countries and different faiths to deliver humanitarian relief material to the people in the Gaza Strip. Nine persons were killed and scores were wounded during the attack.
In order to shed light upon all aspects of the attack, Turkey established a National Inquiry and Investigation Commission composed of representatives from pertinent institutions. The UN Secretary-General also set up a Panel of Inquiry in accordance with the Presidential Statement adopted by the UN Security Council which held an emergency meeting on 1 June 2010 upon Turkey's request. Israel initiated, through a commission, its own national inquiry as well. Moreover, the UN Human Rights Council has mandated an International Fact-Finding Mission to establish the violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law in connection with the attack.
Heeding the UN's call for prompt consideration of the issue, our Commission has worked intensively and submitted its Interim Report to the UN Panel on 1 September 2010. Also respecting the confidentiality of the process, our Commission has refrained from disclosing its report to the public. In contrast, the Israeli side impeded the Panel's work by constantly delaying its own report, and has chosen to share it with the public even before submitting it to the UN Panel.
Our Commission, convened on 23 January 2011 to thoroughly evaluate these developments, has decided to share, at this stage, the following with the public in view of Israel's nonconstructive attitude:
-Israel's so-called "maritime blockade" against the Gaza Strip is devoid of legal basis and legitimacy. Israel's attack which is an extension of this unlawful practice is, therefore, equally illegal.
Under international law, blockades are warfare methods applicable only in armed conflicts of 'international' character. Israel is seen to avoid characterizing its armed conflict with Hamas as 'international', while claiming reliance on the San Remo Manual, an important compendium of international law applicable to naval war, for its so-called blockade and related practices. Yet, the San Remo Manual, including its provisions relating to the establishment of blockades and the interception of vessels on the high seas, comprise legal rules applicable only to international armed conflicts. As long as Israel does not qualify its armed conflict with Hamas as international, it is estopped from relying any of its practices within the framework of this conflict on the San Remo Manual.
-Even if Israel's alleged blockade had not been lacking of legal basis to such an extent, it would still have been unlawful due to the manner in which it is enforced, since Israel has not met various requirements for a naval blockade to be accepted as lawful.
Furthermore, Israel's so-called blockade does not fulfill the requirements of 'proportionality', 'necessity' and 'reasonableness' under international law. Having extended its restrictive policies towards the Gaza Strip far beyond what was required for its actual security needs, Israel has banned even daily consumer goods, none of which could constitute military contraband, in order to punish the civilian population. This clearly demonstrates the arbitrary nature of the so-called blockade.
International law prohibits blockades having aimed at starving the civilian population, or inflicting them with disproportionate damage. Given that numerous international organizations such as the UN Security Council, the UN Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs, the World Food Program, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the World Bank, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Development Program, and the UN Relief and Works Agency have all described the humanitarian situation in Gaza as 'dire', 'unacceptable', 'unsustainable' or 'illegal', Israel's so-called blockade is clearly in violation of international law in this respect as well.
All personalities, including the high level officials of the Human Rights mechanism, who examined this issue have described the so-called Israeli blockade as collective punishment of civilians. With these practices, Israel has violated humanitarian law and in particular the prohibition of collective punishment.
All these clearly illustrate that Israel's so-called blockade and all practices thereunder are devoid of legitimacy and legal basis. Indeed, the Fact-Finding Mission mandated by the Human Rights Council with respect to the attack, has determined the 'blockade' to be illegal and inferred therefrom that the interception of the humanitarian aid convoy by Israel and its subsequent detention of passengers and crew were unlawful.
- All the above show that Israel has violated the 'Law of War' which it relies on with respect to the attack it carried out against the international aid convoy. Israel'sattack on the international aid convoy also violates international peace time law which should in fact be applicable in this case. The freedom of navigation on the high seas and the principle of the Flag State's exclusive jurisdiction are fundamental rules of the Law of the Sea. Israel has flagrantly violated these rules by carrying out an attack, without any authority and jurisdiction, on the international aid convoy while it was sailing on the high seas.
- Israel's attack against the humanitarian aid convoy, which violated both wartime and peacetime international law, has also trampled all international principles, rules and norms with the manner in which it was conducted.
While it had the possibility of intercepting the convoy carrying unarmed civilians without causing bloodshed, Israel opted for a course which made loss of life inevitable. Instead of employing numerous established means of interdiction such as firing across the bow or disabling the rudder, Israel chose to first intimidate and terrorize the passengers, and then to raid the ships in the darkness with lethal force. While so doing, Israel imposed a total electronic blackout on the vessels so that the terror it anticipated would not be transmitted to the outside world.
While Israel should have re-assessed the situation upon the passengers' exercise of self-defense, and had ample time to do so, it chose, on the contrary, to attack with increased violence.
The result is self-evident and requires no further explanation.
Basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, first and foremost the right to life, have been flagrantly violated, and these violations have continued massively up to the moment that the passengers left Israel. The report of the Fact-Finding Mission of the UN Human Rights Council vividly depicts Israel's violations and the violence it used", says the statement.
An Israeli commission of inquiry has largely exonerated the Israeli military in an inquiry over the navy's assault on a Gaza-bound Turkish ship Mavi Marmara last May.
The public commission headed by retired Israeli supreme court judge Jacob Turkel submitted its findings to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the May 31 incident when Israeli commandos killed nine pro-Palestinian activists on the ship.