Palmer: Gaza blockade lawful, IDF used ‘excessive’ force

I reject the Palmer Report. First because it was a panel set up by the UN. Need I say more? Secondly it was a consensus report. Thus each side gets something. The Panel was not to adjudicate on legal liability yet it reported that Israel’s use of force was “excessive and unreasonable”. To my mind this is a legal conclusion. Based on this finding, the report recommended that Israel make “an appropriate statement of regret” and pay compensation to the families of the nine people killed by troops aboard the ship. They had no business doing this. If the families believe they are entitled to compensation let them make their case in an Israeli Court. There should be no compensation without legal responsibility. Who gives a s… that this panel thinks Israel should make a statement of regret. This panel acted as mediator suggesting compromises to get agreement from the parties. I didn’t see any recommendations as to what Turkey should do in return, given that Turkey probably aided and abetted the attackers. Ted Belman

IDF to defend flotilla commandos against legal action Apparently Israel is expecting criminal and civil prosecutions. That’s why she tried to negotiate. But I don’t see how that would have avoided the prosecutions.


The Secretary-General established the Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident on 2 August 2010. The Panel received and reviewed reports of the detailed national investigations conducted by both Turkey and Israel.

The Panel reviewed these reports and further information and clarifications it received in written form and through direct meetings with Points of Contact appointed by each government. In light of the information so gathered, the Panel has examined and identified the facts, circumstances and context of the incident and considered and recommended ways of avoiding similar incidents in the future. In so doing it was not acting as a Court and was not asked to adjudicate on legal liability. Its findings and recommendations are therefore not intended to attribute any legal responsibilities. Nevertheless, the Panel hopes that its report may resolve the issues surrounding the incident and bring the matter to an end.

The Panel’s Method of Work provided that the Panel was to operate by consensus, but where, despite best efforts, it was not possible to achieve consensus, the Chair and Vice-Chair could agree on any procedural issue, finding or recommendation. This report has been adopted on the agreement of the Chair and Vice-Chair under that procedure.


Turkey on Thursday warned Israel of drastic diplomatic sanctions if it did not apologize for the Mavi Marmara incident, even as the oft-delayed UN Palmer Commission report that will be formally presented to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday says Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza was a “legitimate security measure” to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza.

The report, which was obtained and published by The New York Times on Thursday, concluded that 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.”

At the same time, the 105-page report also said that “Israel’s decision to board the vessels with such substantial force at a great distance from the blockade zone and with no final warning immediately prior to the boarding was excessive and unreasonable.”

Neither the Prime Minister’s Office, nor the Foreign Ministry, had any comment on the report, waiting instead until its formal presentation on Friday before issuing a reaction.

One Israeli government official, however, said that the findings of the report “clearly show that Israel’s actions were in accordance with international law, both in imposing the naval blockade and in enforcing it. We think both countries should accept the report and seize its recommendations as an opportunity to restore the relationship between the two countries for their benefit, and for the benefit of regional stability.”

Before the New York Times published the report, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned that if Israel did not apologize for the incident by the time the report was formally released, Turkey would “put Plan B into play.”

Plan B refers to a threat made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month that if Israel did not apologize, Turkey would further downgrade ties with Israel and aggressively oppose it in international forums. The Turks have also threatened to cut economic ties as part of a “Plan B.”

A channel 2 report Thursday night said that this diplomatic downgrade would include declaring Israel’s envoy in Ankara persona non grata, a severe diplomatic step.

Israel’s ambassador to Ankara, Gabi Levy is currently in Israel on vacation and is retiring from the Foreign Service effective in the middle of September. Israel has not named any replacement for him.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made clear to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton two weeks ago that Israel did not intend on apologizing.

The Palmer report, in an introductory section called “rapprochement,” did not call for Israel to apologize to Turkey as Ankara has been demanding.  Rather, it said, “An appropriate statement of regret should be made by Israel in respect of the incident in light of its consequences.”

The report also said Israel should offer payment to those injured and the families of the nine people killed “to be administered by the two governments through a joint trust fund of a sufficient amount to be decided by them.”

Furthermore, the report said, “Turkey and Israel should resume full diplomatic relations, repairing their relationship in the interests of stability in the Middle East and international peace and security.”

Israel has already expressed regret for the loss of lives in the incident, and said it was willing to pay compensation.

Davutoglu did not seem in the “rapprochement” mode during an interview with the Turkish newspapers Today’s Zaman and Hurriyet published Thursday.

Referring to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s recent proposal – shot down by the Turks – to postpone the release of the commission report for another six months to give the sides’ additional time to try and reconcile, he said,  “We cannot accept a six month extension.  The release date of the UN report is the last date for us. We will put Plan B into play if [there is] no apology.”

According to the Today’s Zaman report, Davutoglu said “Turkey will impose sanctions which both Israel and other international parties are aware of.”

Israeli officials said that the Turkish foreign minister’s ultimatum was not a genuine attempt to get an Israeli apology, because that is something that would not be done publicly through the use of threats and ultimatums.  Rather, one official said, Davutoglu was trying to prepare the Turkish public for the Palmer report that upheld Israel’s blockade and was critical of Ankara, by showing that Ankara was “not backing down.”

The Palmer report wrote that the flotilla “acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade. The majority of the flotilla participants had no violent intentions, but there exist serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers, particularly IHH. The actions of the flotilla needlessly carried the potential for escalation.”

According to the report, neither Israel nor Turkey intended the outcome of the flotilla.  “Both states took steps in an attempt to ensure that events did not occur in a manner that endangered individuals’ lives and international peace and security. Turkish officials also approached the organizers of the flotilla with the intention of persuading them to change course if necessary and avoid an encounter with Israeli forces. But more could have been done to warn the flotilla participants of the potential risks involved and to dissuade them from their actions.”

The report said that the IDF commandos who landed on the ship ” faced significant, organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers when they boarded the Mavi Marmara requiring them to use force for their own protection. Three soldiers were captured, mistreated, and placed at risk by those passengers. Several others were wounded.”

Turning its criticism toward Israel, the report found that the loss of lives and injuries resulting from the IDF’s use of force was “unacceptable.”

“Nine passengers were killed and many others seriously wounded by Israeli forces. No satisfactory explanation has been provided to the Panel by Israel for any of the nine deaths,” the report read. “Forensic evidence showing that most of the deceased were shot multiple times, including in the back, or at close range has not been adequately accounted for in the material presented by Israel.”

The report also said that “there was significant mistreatment of passengers by Israeli authorities after the take-over of the vessels had been completed through until their deportation. This included physical mistreatment, harassment and intimidation, unjustified confiscation of belongings and the denial of timely consular assistance.”

In a sub-section entitled “How to Avoid Similar Incidents in the Future,” the panel wrote that “Attempts to breach a lawfully imposed naval blockade place the vessel and those on board at risk. Where a State becomes aware that its citizens or flag vessels intend to breach a naval blockade, it has a responsibility to take pro-active steps compatible with democratic rights and freedoms to warn them of the risks involved and to endeavor to dissuade them from doing so.”

On the other side of the coin, according to the report, “States enforcing a naval blockade against non-military vessels, especially where large numbers of civilian passengers are involved, should be cautious in the use of force. Efforts should first be made to stop the vessels by non-violent means. In particular, they should not use force except when absolutely necessary and then should only use the minimum level of force necessary to achieve the lawful objective of maintaining the blockade. They must provide clear and express warnings so that the vessels are aware if force is to be used against them.”


September 2, 2011 | 6 Comments »

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6 Comments / 6 Comments

  1. Agree 100% with Gerald above
    But most important of all Israel should ban any [ holiday] visits to Turkey by Israeli citizens
    All military dealings should be halted
    And Turkey must be warned in no uncertain way that any attempt by its navy to accompany a Gaza bound blockade breaking ship will be considered an act of war

  2. I do wish those seekers of fairness would explain in detail exactly what constitutes acceptable force and proportionate force when one is being attacked by suicidal maniacs with iron bars, wooden clubs and knives or any other weapons.
    Perhaps the assailants should be approached with tea and crumpets or bouquets of roses.

    The next time Israel should refrain risking Israeli lives by boarding vessels attempting to run its blockade. It should give them a shot across the bows as a warning and if it is not heeded they should be blasted out of the water.

  3. At the same time, the 105-page report also said that “Israel’s decision to board the vessels with such substantial force at a great distance from the blockade zone and with no final warning immediately prior to the boarding was excessive and unreasonable.”

    What a crock. The IDF commandos boarded the ship with paintball guns.

    Plan B refers to a threat made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month that if Israel did not apologize, Turkey would further downgrade ties with Israel and aggressively oppose it in international forums. The Turks have also threatened to cut economic ties as part of a “Plan B.”

    When has Turkey ever supported Israel in international forums? As to economic sanctions, Turkey needs Israel more than Israel needs Turkey.

  4. It’s the same “proportionality” nonsense, which means that in order for you to legally kill a terrorist, he has to kill you first.

  5. They had one soldier down on the deck beating him with lead pipes and the look of determination in their faces spoke volumes. Those activists knew exactly what they were doing; the whole thing was carefully planned. Why should Israel reimburse anyone? If the losers didn’t want to die they should’ve stayed their ass at home and baked cookies instead of stirring up trouble.

    The activists that were allowed to live, are playing the victim angle to portray Israel as a bully in the court of public opinion.

    Sanction away Turkey.

  6. Israel should demand that turkey formally and publicly apologize for trying to break a legal embargo and in the process accept culpability for the deaths and injuries that resulted from this action. Tutrkey should also formally and publicly apologize to Israel for illegally trying to aid a terrorist group(s)in gaza bent on Israel’s destruction. They should also offer financial compensation to the Israeli soldiers injured while performimg thier duties.