Rights org condemns “hideous” attack on Freedom Flotilla

Screenshots from security cameras show Israeli soldiers aboard the Mavi Marmara ship where they carried out an attack that left a number of activists dead. (Turkish TV)

The following press release was issued by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights on 31 May 2010:

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the crime perpetrated by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) earlier this morning, 31 May 2010, when Israeli naval forces attacked the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in international waters as it was sailing towards the Gaza Strip. IOF used excessive and lethal force in its attack on the ships, which left dozens of international civilian solidarity activists who were on board dead or injured.

Today’s crime is hideous, and it is a shame for the international community to remain silent while IOF commits systematic war crimes against civilians.

PCHR believes that Israel would not continue to commit crimes and attacks against civilians, including the crime committed today against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and those international solidarity activists aboard, if the international community did not remain silent, thereby failing to fulfill its obligations and duties to enforce international law and provide protection for civilians.

Today’s attack is characteristic of a long series of war crimes and grave violations carried out by IOF against civilians, including the latest Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip, in addition to the imposition of collective punishment measures against civilians through the ongoing siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Unfortunately and regrettably, the world has remained motionless and there has been no intervention to stop such crimes or prosecute the perpetrators.

Rather, attempts have been ongoing to foil the report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Gaza Conflict (i.e. the Goldstone Report), which provided for the first time practical mechanisms to prosecute Israeli war crimes; such attempts seek to undermine justice and preclude the prosecution of Israeli war criminals, thereby offering them impunity.

Members of the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, are required to fulfill their obligations to protect civilians and immediately intervene to stop crimes perpetrated against civilians.

The ongoing silence of the international community is effectively an open invitation for IOF to continue to challenge international law, to act as a state above the law, and to continue to commit crimes against civilians.

It is time now to put an end to offering impunity to those who commit crimes of the nature outlined above. The impunity with which these criminals operate results from a policy held by the influential member states of the United Nations of favoring political interests and considerations at the expense of international law and civilians, and it comes with the heavy price of sacrificing human rights, international law, and the rule of law.

Today’s crime reconfirms the duplicity of Israel’s claims regarding the end of its military control of the Gaza Strip, and further proves that the Gaza Strip will remain an occupied territory so long as the Israeli military control of the air, sea and land is ongoing.