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Source: Human Rights Council
2 June 2010


HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DECIDES TO DISPATCH INDEPENDENT FACT FINDING MISSION TO INVESTIGATE ISRAELI ATTACK ON HUMANITARIAN BOAT CONVOY

Holds Dialogue with Experts on Independence of Lawyers and Human Rights while
Countering Terrorism, Hears Presentation of Joint Study on Secret Detention

The Human Rights Council in its midday meeting adopted a resolution on the attack by Israeli forces against the humanitarian flotilla bound for Gaza in which it condemned in the strongest terms the outrageous attack by the Israeli forces which resulted in the killing and injuring of many innocent civilians from different countries, and decided to dispatch an independent international fact finding mission to investigate violations of international law resulting from the Israeli attack.

The Council adopted a resolution, by a vote of 32 in favour, three against, and nine abstentions, in which it deeply deplored the loss of life of innocent civilians and expressed its deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families. The Council called on Israel to fully cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross to seek and provide information on the whereabouts, status and condition of the detained and injured persons and demanded that Israel release all detained men and material and facilitate their safe return to their homelands. It also called on Israel to immediately lift the siege on occupied Gaza and other occupied territories.

Pakistan, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab Group, introduced the report. Israel and Palestine spoke as concerned countries. Speaking before and after the resolution was adopted were the United States, France, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway and Nicaragua.



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Action on Resolution on Attack by Israeli Forces against the Humanitarian Boat Convoy

In a resolution on the Grave Attacks by Israeli Forces against the Humanitarian Boat Convoy, (A/HRC/14/L.1), adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, three against, and nine abstentions, as orally amended, the Human Rights Council condemns in the strongest terms the outrageous attack by the Israeli forces against the humanitarian flotilla of ships which resulted in the killing and injuring of many innocent civilians from different countries; deeply deplores the loss of life of innocent civilians and expresses its deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families; calls upon the Occupying Power Israel to fully cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross to seek and provide information on the whereabouts, status and condition of the detained and injured persons; demands the Occupying Power Israel to immediately release all detained men and material and facilitate their safe return to their homelands; calls upon the Occupying Power Israel to immediately lift the siege on occupied Gaza and other occupied territories; calls upon the Occupying Power Israel to ensure the unimpeded provision of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment to the occupied Gaza strip; and decides to dispatch an independent international fact finding mission to investigate violations of international law resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance, and decides to authorise the President of the Council to appoint members of this independent international fact finding mission who should report to the Council on their findings in its fifteenth session.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (32): Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, and Uruguay.

Against (3): Italy, Netherlands, and United States of America.

Abstentions (9): Belgium, Burkina Faso, France, Hungary, Japan, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.

ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab Group, introduced orally revised draft resolution A/HRC-14/L.1 and said that the revised text had been circulated to all members. The concise and focused draft had been presented yesterday with a view to adopt it by consensus without getting into the politics of the broader issue. The resolution was restricted to the specific events and reflected the balanced and appropriate views expressed by the Security Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights. In its preambular part the resolution referred to the relevant international instruments and expressed grave concern at the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The operative part strongly condemned the Israeli attack, deplored the loss of lives and called upon Israel to cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross on the condition of detainees. The draft resolution welcomed the statements made by the Security Council and the High Commissioner and called on Israel to immediately lift the siege and ensure delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza. It requested the establishment of the international investigation in the events and the Organization of the Islamic Conference hoped that the draft resolution was representative of the views of the international community and would be adopted by consensus.

AHARON LESHNO-YAAR (Israel), speaking as a concerned country, said the recent events were tragic and unfortunate, and Israel regretted any loss of life. Foreign nationals were being treated and repatriated. The Gaza Strip was controlled by the Hamas terrorist group, which in its Charter sought to obliterate Israel as a land and people, and indiscriminately attacked Israeli land and citizens on a daily basis. For this reason, Israel imposed a maritime blockade to impede the importation of war material into the Gaza Strip. Free access to Gaza would impede Israel from protecting its citizens from terrorist attacks. No State could put itself before such a reality. The threat to Israel's peace and security was constant and real - just yesterday, two more rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip. International law allowed for such a maritime blockade, and allowed Israel to proscribe technical agreements to ensure that nothing was transferred to others besides the civilian population. The ships involved were invited several times to dock at Ashdod and transfer their goods through established security procedures. All overtures were rejected outright. This so-called freedom flotilla was political in nature, and clearly intended to break the blockade. Five of the six ships were peacefully intercepted and brought to the port of Ashdod. The use of iron bars, knives, and Molotov cocktails against the Israeli forces, as well as the presence of gas masks and bullet-proof vests, were evidence of the intent of the flotilla. With regard to the detainees captured, Israel was in adherence with international law, and was currently in the process of releasing all detainees. The world should not lose sight of the objective - how to empower Palestinians and Arab moderates and advance the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.

IBRAHIM KHRAISHI (Palestine), speaking as a concerned country, said that people always heard that Israel was a democratic country and the Council had just heard the Ambassador of the occupying power say that the aim of the flotilla was political. If that was the case, how could one deal with peaceful activists with such arrogance and in international waters? The matter was quite clear: no impunity could be accepted for this atrocious crime. Otherwise, why was the international community all standing together to combat piracy in Somalia? What was even more unfortunate was that countries were working together to set up a Mediterranean Union. If that was the nature of this Mediterranean Union, Palestine thought this project should be reconsidered. This act by Israel had resulted in the purposeful killing of people from all over the world carrying a humanitarian message and people had seen that on their televisions. In order to make Israel cease its unjust acts and prevent it from going beyond certain limits, Palestine believed Israel should stop considering itself above the law and stop using excuses which no one accepted or believed. Through this stand, Palestine thought they would help Israel and the Israeli leadership. The Gaza Strip was part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and there was no advisory legal opinion that said the contrary. It seemed that Israel revelled in carrying out practices that were against international law. Palestine was not singling out Israel. The recent events were proof that Israel was trying to monopolize the attention of the international community. All they were asking for was a lift of the blockade and an independent fact finding mission set up to deal with this legally. Palestine said it wished to use no weapons beyond that of international law.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE (United States), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, regretted having to call for a vote on this draft resolution. The United States had already engaged in discussion and was working with partners to ensure that the event would be appropriately addressed. The United States condemned the acts that had resulted in the loss of life and expressed its condolences to the families. The United States believed that it was important to conduct an independent and impartial investigation and that there were several ways to do so. The situation in Gaza was unacceptable and unsustainable and the United States would continue to ensure the flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza while keeping in mind Israel’s legitimate security concerns. The only solution to the conflict in the Middle East was dialogue. Unfortunately the resolution before the Council rushed on a set of facts which were only starting to be understood and so risked further politicising the situation. The United States had an obligation to consider the facts and called for a vote.

JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI (France), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said France was convinced of the gravity of the incident that had occurred. The highest authorities in France had expressed their condemnation of the disproportionate use of force, and called for the lifting of the blockade. France had hoped that the Human Rights Council, like the Security Council, could speak unanimously. However, it was not possible to find a common language on certain aspects of the text, and it was regretted that the proposed amendments of the European Union had been ignored. France would therefore abstain from the vote - but this did not impact its wish to establish the truth of the events.

PETER GOODERHAM (United Kingdom), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the United Kingdom deeply deplored the loss of life during the interception of the Gaza flotilla. The United Kingdom believed that it was a matter of grave concern that Israeli action should have ended in such a heavy and tragic loss of life. There was an unambiguous need for Israel to act with restraint and in line with international obligations. Israel now bore the responsibility of providing a full account of what occurred, what efforts were made to minimize the loss of life, and why the death toll was so high. The form of the investigation must be impartial and independent.

BOUDEWIJN J. VAN EENENNAAM (Netherlands), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, deplored the loss of lives and the violence and urged that a full enquiry by Israel should be undertaken. It was still to be determined if the United Nations had a role to play in this investigation. The Human Rights Council should not go over and beyond the course of action recommended by the Security Council. The Netherlands wanted to see more consensus on this issue and regretted that the majority of the proposals made by the European Union were not incorporated by the sponsors of the resolution. That was the reason for which the Netherlands would vote against the resolution.

BENTE ANGELL-HANSEN (Norway), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said Norway believed that the circumstances surrounding Israel's boarding of the flotilla, and the number of people killed underscored the need for an independent international fact finding mission to determine whether international law had been violated. Norway believed the Human Rights Council should act in full coordination with the Security Council, the Secretary-General, and other relevant United Nations bodies when responding to this incident. On this basis, it had argued for a decision by the Council tasking the Secretary-General of the United Nations to lead this investigation, and regretted that this was not retained, as this would have secured a more coordinated and effective response by the United Nations. Norway voted for the resolution as it believed that this tragic incident should be independently and internationally investigated. The fact finding mission should work in close cooperation with the Secretary-General and the Security Council as well as other relevant United Nations bodies, and its composition should ensure a prompt, transparent, and credible investigation. Israel was urged to cooperate fully with the fact finding mission.

CARLOS ROBELO RAFFONE (Nicaragua), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said Nicaragua voted in favour of this resolution and it welcomed the fact that the Council had agreed to sending an international fact finding mission to investigate the events that had taken place. Nicaragua wanted to draw the Council’s attention to the position of the United States, which said it wanted to have a Council free of politics, yet they were the first not to remove politics from this Council.

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For use of the information media; not an official record


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