Israel flotilla raid 'broke law'
Israeli forces violated international law when they raided a Gaza-bound aid flotilla killing nine activists earlier this year, a report by three UN-appointed human rights experts said.
The UN Human Rights Council's fact-finding mission concluded that Israel's naval blockade of the Palestinian territory was unlawful because of the humanitarian crisis there, and described the military raid on the flotilla as brutal and disproportionate.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded by saying the Human Rights Council, which commissioned the report, had a "biased, politicised and extremist approach".
The Islamic militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, praised the report and called for those involved in the raid to be punished.
The 56-page document lists a series of alleged crimes committed by Israeli forces during and after the raid, including wilful killing and torture, and claims there is "clear evidence to support prosecutions".
"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," the experts found.
Examining the circumstances of the raid, the panel concluded that a humanitarian crisis existed in Gaza on the day of the incident and "for this reason alone the blockade is unlawful and cannot be sustained in law".
Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas militants violently seized control of the coastal territory from the moderate Palestinian Fatah party in 2007. Israel allows humanitarian aid and goods into Gaza via land crossings after inspection for weapons.
"The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel toward the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality," the report said.
It described the Israeli raid on May 31, in which eight Turkish activists and one Turkish-American aboard the Mavi Marmara were shot and killed, as "clearly unlawful".