Thursday, September 23, 2010

Telling us what we already knew

In May, Israeli commandos seized an aid flotilla heading for Gaza, murdering nine protestors in the process. Today, a panel of international human rights experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council told us what we all knew: that it was a crime. But not just any crime - they're accusing Israel of grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and calling for the prosecution of those responsible:

"There is clear evidence to support prosecutions of the following crimes within the terms of article 147 of the fourth Geneva convention: wilful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health," the report said.

"A series of violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, were committed by the Israeli forces during the interception of the flotilla and during the detention of passengers in Israel prior to deportation."

They also found Israel's blockade of Gaza to be utterly unlawful due to the humanitarian crisis there.

The report will be debated by the UN Security Council, where no doubt the US will use its veto to prevent any formal criticism of Israel's actions. That's not good enough. Those responsible for these crimes need to face justice. If Israel will not hold them to account, then international arrest warrants should be issued so they can stand trial before the International Criminal Court.

The full report is here [PDF].