Turkey bashes Israel in deadly ship raid report 11Feb11 February 12, 2011

Yahoo News UK -  11 February 2011

Israel used “excessive” force and breached international law in a raid on Gaza-bound aid ships last year that killed nine Turks, a Turkish inquiry commission said in a final report released on Friday.

Israeli soldiers mounted a “full-fledged and well-planned attack” on the international aid flotilla on May 31, using “excessive, indiscriminate and disproportionate force” against the civilians on board, said the report, which Turkey handed over to a United Nations inquiry panel earlier Friday.

It argued that “since Israel’s naval ‘blockade’ on the Gaza Strip is unlawful, any act it perform as a function of this ‘blockade’ is unlawful par excellence.”

Ankara now expects the UN panel to “produce an assessment that would not hurt the

conscience of the international community… (and) reflect the truth… and that afterwards Israel would acknowledge the facts,” Mithat Rende, a senior Turkish diplomat, told reporters.

“The case is a critical litmus test for the international community in upholding the rule of law… Impunity must give way to accountability,” the report said.

“Israel must… convey a public apology to Turkey and provide compensation for all damages and losses,” it said, echoing Ankara’s conditions for mending fences with its one-time ally.

In its own report last month, Israel’s commission concluded that both the raid and the blockade of Gaza complied with international law, while acknowledging “regrettable consequences.”

It said Israeli troops “encountered extreme violence” when they boarded the Mavi Marmara ferry, where all deaths occurred, and that activists from the Turkish Islamist IHH charity used firearms against the soldiers, repeating an allegation denied by the activists.

Rende also dismissed the claim Friday, saying that “the passengers in no way used any firearms against the Israeli forces.”

He said passengers had seized three weapons from Israeli soldiers in the melee on board, but threw them into the sea.

The Turkish report said Israeli forces fired from a helicopter, killing two activists before any soldier landed on board, terrorizing the passengers.

The activists “only exercised a lawful right of self-defence, without any firearms,” it said.

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