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Diplomatic fallout as UN releases Gaza flotilla raid report

Mavi Marmara, lead ship in the 2010 Gaza flotilla

The UN on Sept. 2 issued its its report on the deadly May 2010 Gaza flotilla raid, criticizing Israel for using "excessive and unreasonable" force but finding that the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip itself is lawful. Prepared by a panel headed by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer for the office of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the report found:

The fundamental principle of the freedom of navigation on the high seas is subject to only certain limited exceptions under international law. Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law... Non-violent options should have been used in the first instance. In particular, clear prior warning that the vessels were to be boarded and a demonstration of dissuading force should have been given to avoid the type of confrontation that occurred. The operation should have reassessed its options when the resistance to the initial boarding attempt became apparent.

The report was predictably met with protest by both Israel and Turkey. Ankara expelled Israel's envoy and froze military cooperation with the Jewish state following the release of the report, citing Israel's failure to apologize for the raid, in which nine Turkish nationals were killed. "The time has come for Israel to pay for its stance that sees it above international laws and disregards human conscience," said Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu. "The first and foremost result is that Israel is going to be devoid of Turkey's friendship … as long as the Israeli government does not take the necessary steps, there will be no turning back."

Ankara also said it would seek to prosecute all Israelis involved in the raid. (ReutersJurist, Sept. 2)

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