Reading the HRC report on the Flotilla attack

I was looking for a link the other day and couldn’t find it. Well, it’s turned up now, and you can read it here. Just jotting notes as I read. Bold and underlined comments are my editorial intrusions.

(Methodologically, from p 1 on summary)

The fact-finding mission conducted interviews with more than 100 witnesses in
Geneva, London, Istanbul and Amman. On the basis of this testimony and other
information received, the Mission was able to reconstruct a picture of the circumstances
surrounding the interception on 31 May 2010 and its aftermath. The report presents a
factual description of the events leading up to the interception, the interception of each of
the six ships in the flotilla as well as a seventh ship subsequently intercepted on 6 June
2010, the deaths of nine passengers and wounding of many others and the detention of
passengers in Israel and their deportation.

(the team)

2. Seven weeks later, on 23 July 2010, the President of the Human Rights Council
appointed Judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, Q.C., retired Judge of the International Criminal
Court and former Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago, to be Chairman and to head
the Mission. The other appointed members were Sir Desmond de Silva, Q.C. of the United
Kingdom, former Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra
Leone and Ms. Mary Shanthi Dairiam of Malaysia, founding member of the Board of
Directors of the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific and former
member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
3. In accordance with common practice, the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) established a secretariat to support the
Mission. The experts were also assisted by external specialists in forensic pathology,
military issues, firearms, the law of the sea and international humanitarian law.

16. The Mission expresses its profound regret that, notwithstanding a most cordial
meeting on the 18 August 2010, the Permanent Representative of Israel advised in writing
at the end of the meeting that the position of his government was one of non-recognition of
and non-cooperation with the Mission. (what a surprise!)

ON METHODOLOGY

20. In ascertaining the facts surrounding the Israeli interception of the Gaza-bound
flotilla, the Mission gave particular weight to the direct evidence received from interviews
with eye witnesses and crew, as well as the forensic evidence and interviews with
government officials. In light of seizure of cameras, CCTV footage and digital media
storage devices and of the suppression of that material with the disclosure only of a selected
and minute quantity of it, the Mission was obliged to treat with extreme caution the
versions released by the Israeli authorities where those versions did not coincide with the
evidence of eyewitnesses who appeared before us.

21… A total of one hundred and twelve witnesses6 were
interviewed by the Mission either by all of its members at the same time or by individual
members. In addition written statements were received from several persons through their
attorneys.

23. The Mission is of the opinion that evidence of a sufficient number and range of
witnesses was taken to afford it a comprehensive picture of the events as they occurred on
the 31 May 2010. In addition to the information received live from persons attending on it,
the Mission took into consideration information from a variety of sources subject to
verification of authenticity.
24. In assessing the evidence and information available to it, the Mission paid particular
attention to the content of the evidence and demeanour of the persons appearing before it in
deciding whether and if so what part of the information provided should be accepted. More
weight of necessity was accorded to such evidence if believed than to information from
other sources. In addition, with respect to information in the nature of hearsay evidence,
due regard was paid, giving to it such weight as the circumstances merited. Matters were
decided on the basis of the preponderance and quality of the evidence so as to satisfy all the
members of the Mission in order that they felt sure of their conclusions.

From para 26, it talks about the context of the Gaza Strip, starting with the Oslo Accords, and how closures would be implemented as Israeli policy, resulting in hardship for the Palestinians who used to work (as cheap exploited labour incidentally) within Green Line Israel. It then talks about the blockade

30. Economic and political measures started to be imposed against the Gaza Strip in
February 2006 following the Hamas election victory in the legislative elections,
accompanied by the withholding of financial resources on the part of donor countries. The
closure on the Gaza Strip was imposed by Israel after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip
in June 2007. In September 2007, Israel declared the Gaza Strip “hostile territory” and that
the movement of goods into and out of Gaza would be restricted for security concerns as
well as in order to apply pressure on the Hamas government “as part of the State of Israel’s
operations against continuous terrorism.”12 Harsher fuel restrictions came into effect since
October 2007.

The footnote 12 reads:

“Hamas is a terrorist organization that has taken control of the Gaza Strip and turned it into hostile
territory. This organization engages in hostile activity against the State of Israel and its citizens and
bears responsibility for this activity. In light of the foregoing, it has been decided to adopt the
recommendations that have been presented by the security establishment, including the continuation
of military and counter-terrorist operations against the terrorist organizations. Additional sanctions
will be placed on the Hamas regime in order to restrict the passage of various goods to the Gaza Strip
and reduce the supply of fuel and electricity. Restrictions will also be placed on the movement of
people to and from the Gaza Strip. The sanctions will be enacted following a legal examination, while
taking into account both the humanitarian aspects relevant to the Gaza Strip and the intention to avoid
a humanitarian crisis.”
http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Communiques/2007/Security+Cabinet+declares+Gaza+host
ile+territory+19-Sep-2007.htm

31. In a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court,13 the legality of the decision by the
Government of Israel to reduce the supply of electricity and fuel was challenged based on
the argument that such cuts were inconsistent with the obligations of Israel under the Fourth
Geneva Convention relating to the protection of civilians. In its response, the State
Attorney’s Office inter alia submitted that harming the economy itself is a legitimate means
of warfare and a relevant consideration even when deciding on allowing in relief
consignments.14

From para 37, stuff on the humanitarian situation in Gaza

38…In a public statement issued on 14 June 2010, the ICRC described the impact of the
closure on the situation in Gaza as “devastating” for the 1.5 million people living there,
emphasizing that “the closure constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation
of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law”, saying the only sustainable
solution is a lifting of the closure.

40. According to information provided to the Mission by the United Nations Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory, the
blockade exacerbated the already existing difficulties of the population in Gaza in terms of
livelihoods and brought to new peaks the severe human dignity crisis resulting from the
deteriorated public services, widespread poverty, food insecurity, over 40 percent
unemployment and 80 percent aid dependence (i.e. some 80 percent of the population
receives humanitarian assistance, mainly food). People’s lives were reduced to a daily
struggle in an attempt to secure the most basic needs.
41. “Abject poverty” among refugees tripled since the imposition of the blockade from
100,000 to 300,000 and 61 percent of households are food insecure. There has been a shift
in diet (from protein rich to low cost and high carbohydrate foods), triggering concerns over
mineral and vitamin deficiencies. Moreover, Gaza has been affected by a protracted energy
crisis, with the power plant operating at 30 percent of its capacity, scheduled cuts of 8-12
hours per day, leaving households with partial food refrigeration. Services and utilities are
forced to rely on generators and UPS units vulnerable due to inconsistent supply of spare
parts.
42. Water and sanitation services have deteriorated and resulted in over 40 percent of
water loss due to leakages. On a daily basis, eighty million litres of untreated and partially
treated sewage is discharged into the environment. Polluted sea water has led to increased
health risks and as a result of sewage infiltrating into the aquifer only between five and ten
percent of the extracted water is safe. Challenges to the health system include the
impossibility to ensure that medical equipment is available and properly maintained, while
referral abroad is subject to long and arduous permit processing and medical staff is
prevented from upgrading knowledge and skills.

43. On 20 June 2010, the Security Cabinet of the Government of Israel decided on
several steps to implement a new Governmental policy towards Gaza, seeking to keep
weapons and war material out of Gaza while liberalizing the system by which civilian

goods enter Gaza.30 In July, the United Nations and international relief agencies cautiously
welcomed the easing of import restrictions on the blockade, but emphasized that only a
complete lifting of the blockade can address the humanitarian crisis, highlighting that this
would also mean bringing exports out of Gaza in order to rebuild the economy destroyed by
the blockade.31
44. At the end of August, OCHA reported that despite the easing of the restrictions and
an increase of imports into the Gaza Strip for some weeks, ongoing restrictions on the entry
of construction materials as well as on exports, continued to impede major reconstruction
and development, noting that the truckloads of goods entering Gaza during the week of 18
August to 24 August constituted only 37 percent of the weekly average of truckloads that
entered during the first five months of 2007, prior to the imposition of the blockade. In the
same report, OCHA also highlights the continuing fuel shortage and electricity crisis in the
Gaza Strip.32 The impact of the power cuts in terms of putting people’s lives at risk, for
instance those in need of medical treatment (i.e. dialysis patients) was also highlighted by
the ICRC in a press release on 7 September 2010.

3. Information on recent armed hostilities
45. According to OCHA, in 2010, forty-one Palestinians (including fourteen civilians),
three Israeli soldiers and one foreign national have been killed in the context of the
Palestinian–Israeli conflict in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel, with another 178
Palestinians (including 154 civilians) and eight Israeli soldiers having been injured.33
According to the Israeli Defence Forces, a total of 120 rockets were fired from the Gaza
Strip into Israel from 1 January 2010 to 31 July 2010.34 This figure does not include failed
attempts or firing directly at Israeli forces.

Skipping the legal analysis, it is worth noting their judgment on the blockade

54. Moreover, the Mission emphasizes that according to article 33 of the Fourth Geneva
Convention, collective punishment of civilians under occupation is prohibited. “No
protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed.
Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism, are
prohibited.” The Mission considers that one of the principal motives behind the imposition
of the blockade was a desire to punish the people of the Gaza Strip for having elected
Hamas. The combination of this motive and the effect of the restrictions on the Gaza Strip
leave no doubt that Israel’s actions and policies amount to collective punishment as defined
by international law. In this connection, the Mission supports the findings of the Special
Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since
1967, Richard Falk,45 the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza
Conflict46 and most recently the ICRC47 that the blockade amounts to collective punishment
in violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.

57. Therefore the Mission is satisfied not only that the flotilla presented no imminent
threat but that the interception was motivated by concerns about the possible propaganda
victory that might be claimed by the organizers of the flotilla.

58. Given the evidence at the Turkel Committee, it is clear that there was no reasonable
suspicion that the Flotilla posed any military risk of itself. As a result, no case could be
made to intercept the vessels in the exercise of belligerent rights or Article 51 self-defence.
Thus, no case can be made for the legality of the interception and the Mission therefore
finds that the interception was illegal.

Affirms Gaza still occupied.

63. As the occupying power, Israel has certain obligations imposed on it by international
law. The International Court of Justice has concluded that the Fourth Geneva Convention is
applicable in the occupied Palestinian territories which before the 1967 conflict lay to the
east of the Green Line and which during the conflict were occupied by Israel.51 This is also
the case for the Gaza strip, despite the unilateral withdrawal by Israel of the forces from the
Gaza Strip in 2005, as the occupation has been confirmed repeatedly since then by the
General Assembly and the Security Council.52

From 76 – discusses history of the Free Gaza boats

A sixth mission in December 2008 was obliged to divert to Lebanon after the boat was rammed and severely damaged by the Israeli Navy and
a seventh mission in January 2009 was aborted after fears it too would be rammed.
77. On 29 June 2009, approximately 20 nautical miles from the coast of Gaza, the Israeli
Navy intercepted a boat called the “Spirit of Humanity” owned by the Free Gaza
Movement, carrying 21 passengers and a cargo of humanitarian aid to Gaza. After Israeli
requests to turn around were refused, the boat was boarded and taken to Ashdod where the
passengers were arrested and detained.

The goal was political, not humanitarian

79. The stated aims of the Flotilla, as testified by the leaders of the Free Gaza
Movement and IHH, were threefold: (1) to draw international public attention to the
situation in the Gaza Strip and the effect the blockade; (2) to break the blockade; and (3) to
deliver humanitarian assistance and supplies to Gaza. All participants interviewed by the
Mission shared their aims, although most placed emphasis on the delivery of humanitarian
aid.
80. The Mission notes a certain tension between the political objectives of the flotilla
and its humanitarian objectives. This comes to light the moment that the Israeli
Government made offers to allow the humanitarian aid to be delivered via Israeli ports but
under the supervision of a neutral organization. The Mission also notes that the Gaza Strip
does not possess a deep sea port designed to receive the kind of cargo vessels included in
the flotilla, raising practical logistical questions about the plan to deliver large quantities of
aid by the route chosen. Whilst the Mission is satisfied that the flotilla constituted a serious
attempt to bring essential humanitarian supplies into Gaza, it seems clear that the primary
objective was political,
as indeed demonstrated by the decision of those on board the
Rachel Corrie to reject an Irish Government sponsored proposal that the cargo in that ship
to be allowed through Ashdod intact.

Interesting side note

86. The mission’s attention was drawn to allegations that one of the passengers on the
ship, who had logistical responsibilities with regard to the cargo on the Mavi Marmara, was convicted and served a term of imprisonment for his involvement in the 1996 hijacking of a
Russian ferry boat. The hijackers were demanding the release of Chechen prisoners at the
time. (the footnote is basically Israeli army allegation)

NO WEAPONS

88. There was stringent security surrounding the Mavi Mamara in the port of Antalya
and all items taken on board were checked. Passengers and their luggage were subjected to
security checks similar to those found in airports before boarding, including body searches
The passengers who were transferred from the Challenger 1 onto the Mavi Marmara on the
ocean were subjected to the same security checks.
89. Similar meticulous security checks were carried out on passengers onboard the
Eleftheri Mesogios at the port in Greece. The Svendoni was primarily carrying passengers
but also had on board a few medical items, including an ultra-sound machine, which had
been donated. The boat’s captain personally checked the machine and the boat to confirm
that there were no weapons or similar items on board. Witnesses also said that the cargo
onboard the Rachel Corrie was checked by three independent authorities and sealed before
it left Ireland. The seals remained intact when the ship was boarded by the Israelis.

Preparing for the hijackers

Preparation and planning on the Mavi Marmara
99. The full realisation that the Israelis were serious about commandeering the flotilla
spread through the passengers on the Mavi Marmara during the course of 30 May. There is
clear evidence that some people on board the Mavi Marmara, including senior IHH leaders,
were prepared actively to defend the ship against any boarding attempt. Video evidence
shows a meeting of about fifty to a hundred passengers on the ship on 30 May at which the
IHH President and a number of other prominent passengers spoke with some bravado about
preventing an Israeli takeover of the ship. The pressure of the water hoses was seen being
tested on the decks the day before the interception.

101. During the night of 30 to 31 May, some passengers took electric tools from the
ship’s workshop, which was not kept locked and sawed sections of railings into lengths of
approximately one and a half metres, apparently for use as weapons. Lengths of metal
chains from between the railings were also removed. When the ship’s crew discovered this,
the tools were confiscated and locked in the radio room on the bridge. A number of the
passengers were also provided with gas masks to counter the effects of tear gas. However,
the Mission notes that the ship’s standard fire-fighting equipment would have included
breathing apparatus. Furthermore, the fact that some passengers engaged in last minute
efforts to fashion rudimentary weapons shortly prior to the interception confirms the
findings of the Mission that no weapons were brought on board the ship.

That fateful night/morning

110. In early June 2010, audio recordings were released by the Israeli authorities of
apparent exchanges between the Israeli Navy and the Defne Y which included insulting
references by unknown persons referring to ‘Auschwitz’ and the 11 September 2001 attack
on the World Trade Centre in New York. However, the Mission is not satisfied that these
recordings are authentic, nor has the Israeli government made this material available to the
Mission for appropriate examination. The Mission was given positive evidence that no such
statements were made by anyone involved in communications on the flotilla.

(i) Initial attempt to board the Mavi Marmara from the sea
112. Israeli zodiac boats made a first attempt to board the Mavi Marmara from the sea
shortly before 0430 hours. Several zodiac boats approached the ship at the stern from both
the port and starboard sides. The approach was accompanied by the firing of non-lethal
weaponry onto the ship, including smoke and stun grenades, tear-gas and paintballs. Plastic
bullets may also have been used at this stage: however, despite some claims that live
ammunition was also fired from the zodiac boats, the Mission is not satisfied that this was
the case. The smoke and tear gas were not effective due to the strong sea breeze and later
due to the downdraft from helicopters.
113. The Israeli forces attempted to board the ship through attaching ladders to the hull.
Passengers engaged in efforts to repel the attempted boarding using the ship’s water hoses68
and the throwing of various items at the boats including chairs, sticks, a box of plates and
other objects that were readily to hand. This initial attempt to board the ship proved
unsuccessful. It is the view of the Mission that the Israeli forces should have re-evaluated
their plans when it became obvious that putting their soldiers on board the ship may lead to
civilian casualties.
(ii) Landing of soldiers from helicopters onto the Mavi Marmara
114. Just minutes after soldiers from the zodiac boats had made initial unsuccessful
attempts to board, the first helicopter approached the ship at approximately 0430 hours,
hovering above the top deck. At this point between 10 and 20 passengers were located in
the central area of the top deck, although this number increased as other passengers learned
of events on the top deck. The Israeli forces used smoke and stun grenades in an attempt to
clear an area for the landing of soldiers. The first rope that was let down from the helicopter
was taken by passengers and tied it to a part of the top deck and thereby rendered
ineffective for the purpose of soldiers’ descent. A second rope was then let down from the

helicopter and the first group of soldiers descended. The Mission does not find it plausible
that soldiers were holding their weapons and firing as they descended on the rope.
However, it has concluded that live ammunition was used from the helicopter onto the top
deck prior to the descent of the soldiers.
115. With the available evidence it is difficult to delineate the exact course of events on
the top deck between the time of the first soldier descending and the Israeli forces securing
control of the deck. A fight ensued between passengers and the first soldiers to descend
onto the top deck that resulted in at least two soldiers being pushed down onto the bridge
deck below, where they were involved in struggles with groups of passengers who
attempted to take their weapons. The equipment jacket of at least one soldier was removed
as he was pushed over the side of the deck. A number of weapons were taken from the
soldiers by passengers and thrown into the sea: one weapon, a 9mm pistol was unloaded by
a passenger, a former US Marine, in front of witnesses and then hidden in another part of
the ship in an attempt to retain evidence.
116. A number of the passengers on the top deck fought with the soldiers using their fists,
sticks, metal rods and knives.69 At least one of the soldiers was stabbed with a knife or other
sharp object. Witnesses informed the Mission that their objective was to subdue and disarm
the soldiers so that they could not harm anyone. The Mission is satisfied on the evidence
that at least two passengers on the bridge deck also used handheld catapults to propel small
projectiles at the helicopters. The Mission has found no evidence to suggest that any of the
passengers used firearms or that any firearms were taken on board the ship. Despite
requests, the Mission has not received any medical records or other substantiated
information from the Israeli authorities regarding any firearm injuries sustained by soldiers
participating in the raid. Doctors examined the three soldiers taken below decks and no
firearm injuries were noted. Further, the Mission finds that the Israeli accounts so
inconsistent and contradictory with regard to evidence of alleged firearms injuries to Israeli
soldiers that it has to reject it.
70

117. During the operation to secure control of the top deck, the Israeli forces landed
soldiers from three helicopters over a fifteen-minute period.71 The Israeli forces used
paintballs, plastic bullets and live ammunition, fired by soldiers from the helicopter above
and soldiers who had landed on the top deck. The use of live ammunition during this period
resulted in fatal injuries to four passengers,72 and injuries to at least nineteen others,
fourteen with gunshot wounds. Escape points to the bridge deck from the top deck were
narrow and restricted and as such it was very difficult for passengers in this area to avoid

being hit by live rounds. At least one of those killed was using a video camera and not
involved in any of the fighting with the soldiers. The majority of gunshot wounds received
by passengers were to their upper torsos in the head, thorax, abdomen and back. Given the
relatively small number of passengers on the top deck during the incident, the Mission is
driven to the conclusion that the vast majority were in receipt of gunshot wounds.
118. Israeli soldiers continued shooting at passengers who had already been wounded,
with live ammunition, soft baton charges (beanbags) and plastic bullets. Forensic analysis
demonstrates that two of the passengers killed on the top deck received wounds compatible
with being shot at close range while lying on the ground: Furkan Doğan received a bullet in
the face and İbrahim Bilgen received a fatal wound from a soft baton round (beanbag) fired
at such close proximity to his head that parts such as wadding penetrated his skull entered
his brain. Furthermore, some of the wounded were subjected to further violence including
being hit with the butt of a weapon, being kicked in the head, chest and back and being
verbally abused. A number of the wounded passengers were handcuffed and then left
unattended for some time before being dragged to the front of the deck by their arms or
legs.
119. Once the Israeli forces had secured control of the top deck they undertook measures
to move down to the bridge deck below in order to take over the ship’s bridge and thus take
control of the ship. In relation to this operation, a series of shooting incidents occurred
centred on the portside doorway which gives access to the main stairwell on the bridge
deck. This door is near to the hatch and ladder, which allows access from the top deck to
the bridge deck.
120. Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition both from the top deck at passengers on the
bridge deck below and after they had moved down to the bridge deck. At least four
passengers were killed,73 and at least nine injured (five with firearms injuries) during this
phase. None of the four passengers who were killed, including a photographer who at the
time of being shot was engaged in taking photographs and was shot by an Israeli soldier
positioned on the top deck above, posed any threat to the Israeli forces. There was
considerable live fire from Israeli soldiers on the top deck and a number of passengers were
injured or killed whilst trying to take refuge inside the door or assisting other to do so.
Wounded passengers were brought into the ship through the stairwell and through the
ship’s bridge room and were helped downstairs where they could be given some form of
medical treatment by doctors and others on board.
121. One witness described the circumstances in which one passenger was killed on the
bridge deck:
I saw two soldiers on top of the roof standing there holding their guns down at
something on the roof that I couldn’t see. There were two guys hidden underneath a
walkway of the ship to the right hand side and I was screaming at them not to move.
The two passengers were below the soldiers. They could not see the soldiers and the
soldiers could not see them while they were hidden under the walkway. Then the
guys moved out making themselves visible as they tried to run towards the metal
door. One man made it to open the door and got inside. The other man must have
been shot. I think he was shot in the head from the way he looked, he wasn’t moving
at all. He was twenty or thirty metres away from me. When the second man got shot,
the first man opened the door and using it as a shield tried to reach out for the
second man. He managed to reach him and was pulling him by his right arm. I
couldn’t see any blood, but he wasn’t moving at all.

122. A group of up to twenty passengers, some holding sticks and rods and wearing gas
masks, were located on or around the stairwell inside the ship. One passenger standing just
inside the door was shot through the broken porthole in the door by a soldier standing a few
metres away on the bridge deck outside.
123. During the shootings on the bridge deck and as it became apparent that a large
number of passengers had become injured, Bulent Yildirim, the President of IHH and one
of principal organisers of the flotilla, removed his white shirt which was then used as a
white flag to indicate a surrender. This does not appear to have had any effect and live
firing continued on the ship.
124. Israeli forces moved down to the bridge deck and moved rapidly to take over the
bridge room towards the front of the ship. The doorway and windows of the bridge room
came under fire and the ship’s captain ordered the ship’s engines to be cut. Israeli soldiers
entered the bridge room through the door and broken window. The crew were made to lie
on the ground at gunpoint. The captain remained standing but was held at gunpoint.

(iv) Shootings at the bow deck, the release of the Israeli soldiers and end of the operation
125. During the initial fighting on the top deck three Israeli soldiers were taken under
control and brought inside the ship. While some passengers wished to harm the soldiers,
other passengers ensured that they were protected and able to receive rudimentary medical
treatment from doctors on board. Two of the soldiers had received wounds to the abdomen.
One of the soldiers had a superficial wound to the abdomen, caused by a sharp object,
which penetrated to the subcutaneous tissue. None of the three soldiers had received
gunshot injuries, according to doctors who examined them. All three soldiers were in a state
of shock and were suffering from cuts, bruises and blunt force trauma.
126. As the seriousness of incidents on the outer decks became apparent, there was
growing concern among some of the flotilla organisers that holding the captured Israeli
soldiers may have serious implications for the security of all passengers on board.74 It was
decided that the soldiers should be released and they were taken to the bow of the lower
deck. Once on the bow deck two of the soldiers jumped into the sea and were picked up by
Israeli boats. The third soldier did not jump and was rapidly joined by Israeli soldiers who
came down from the top deck.
127. At least four passengers were injured on the bow of the ship, both before and around
the time that the Israeli soldiers were released. At least two passengers received wounds
from live ammunition, while others received injuries from soft baton charges, including one
doctor who was tending to injured passengers.
128. The Israeli forces stated that the active phase of the Israeli forces operation
concluded at 0517 hours,75 once the ship was under their control and the three soldiers were
released. During the 45-50 minute operation, nine passengers were killed, more than 24
passengers had received serious injuries caused by live ammunition and a large number of
other passengers had received injuries caused by plastic rounds, soft baton charges (beanbags)
and other means.

pp 30-1

Deaths occurring on the Top Deck (roof)
Furkan Doğan
Furkan Doğan, a nineteen-year old with dual Turkish and United States citizenship, was on
the central area of the top deck filming with a small video camera when he was first hit
with live fire. It appears that he was lying on the deck in a conscious, or semi-conscious,
state for some time. It total Furkan received five bullet wounds, to the face, head, back
thorax, left leg and foot. All of the entry wounds were on the back of his body, except for
the face wound which entered to the right of his nose. According to forensic analysis,
tattooing around the wound in his face indicates that the shot was delivered at point blank
range. Furthermore, the trajectory of the wound, from bottom to top, together with a vital
abrasion to the left shoulder that could be consistent with the bullet exit point, is compatible
with the shot being received while he was lying on the ground on his back. The other
wounds were not the result of firing in contact, near contact or close range, but it is not
otherwise possible to determine the exact firing range. The wounds to the leg and foot were
most likely received in a standing position.
İbrahim Bilgen
İbrahim Bilgen, a 60 year old Turkish citizen, from Siirt in Turkey, was on the top deck and
was one of the first passengers to be shot. He received a bullet wound to the chest, the
trajectory of which was from above and not at close range. He had a further two bullet
wounds to the right side of the back and right buttock, both back to front. These wounds
would not have caused instant death, but he would have bled to death within a short time
without medical attention. Forensic evidence shows that he was shot in the side of the head
with a soft baton round at such close proximity and that an entire bean bag and its wadding
penetrated the skull and lodged in the brain. He had a further bruise on the right flank
consistent with another beanbag wound. The wounds are consistent with the deceased
initially being shot from soldiers on board the helicopter above and receiving a further
wound to the head while lying on the ground, already wounded.
Fahri Yaldiz
Fahri Yaldiz, a 42 year old Turkish citizen from Adiyaman, received five bullet wounds,
one to the chest, one to the left leg and three to the right leg. The chest wound was caused
by a bullet that entered near the left nipple and hit the heart and lungs before exiting from
the shoulder. This injury would have caused rapid death.
Ali Heyder Bengi
According to the pathology report, Ali Heyder Bengi, a 38 year old Turkish citizen from
Diyarbakir, received six bullet wounds (one in the chest, one in the abdomen, one in the
right arm, one in the right thigh and two in the left hand). One bullet lodged in the chest
area. None of the wounds would have been instantly fatal, but damage to the liver caused
bleeding which would have been fatal if not stemmed. There are several witness accounts
which suggest that Israeli soldiers shot the deceased in the back and chest at close range
while he was lying on the deck as a consequence of initial bullet wounds.
Deaths occurring on the Bridge Deck, portside
Cevdet Kiliçlar
Cevdet Kiliçlar, a 38 year old Turkish citizen from Istanbul, was on the Mavi Marmara, in
his capacity as a photographer employed by IHH. At the moment he was shot he was
standing on the bridge deck on the port side of the ship near to the door leading to the main
stairwell and was attempting to photograph Israeli soldiers on the top deck. According to
the pathology reports, he received a single bullet to his forehead between the eyes. The
A/HRC/15/21
31
bullet followed a horizontal trajectory which crossed the middle of the brain from front to
back. He would have died instantly.
Cengiz Akyüz and Cengiz Songür
41 year old Cengiz Akyüz from Hatay and 46 year old Cengiz Songür from Izmir, both
Turkish citizens, were injured on the bridge deck in close succession by live fire from
above. They had been sheltering and were shot as they attempted to move inside the door
leading to the stairwell. Cengiz Akyüz received a shot to the head and it is probable that he
died instantly.
The pathology report shows four wounds: to the neck, face, chest and thigh. Cengiz Songür
received a single bullet to the upper central thorax below the neck, shot from a high angle,
which lodged in the right thoracic cavity injuring the heart and aorta. Unsuccessful efforts
were made by doctors inside the ship to resuscitate him through heart massage.
Çetin Topçuoğlu
Çetin Topçuoğlu, a 54 year old Turkish citizen from Adana had been involved in helping to
bring injured passengers inside the ship to be treated. He was also shot close to the door on
the
bridge deck. He did not die instantly and his wife, who was also on board the ship, was with
him when he died. He was shot by three bullets. One bullet entered from the top the soft
tissues of the right side of the back of the head, exited from the neck and then re-entered
into the thorax. Another bullet entered the left buttock and lodged in the right pelvis. The
third entered the right groin and exited from the lower back. There are indications that the
victim may have been in a crouching or bending position when this wound was sustained.
Deaths and seriously wounded occurring in unknown locations
Necdet Yildirim
The location and circumstances of the shooting and death of Necdet Yildirim, a 31 year old
Turkish citizen from Istanbul, remain unclear. He was shot twice in the thorax, once from
the front and once from the back. The trajectory of both bullets was from top to bottom. He
also received bruises consistent with plastic bullet impact
Wounding of Uğur Suleyman Söylemez (in a coma)
The serious nature of wounds to Uğur Suleyman Söylemez, a 46 year old Turkish citizen
from Ankara, which include at least one bullet wound to the head, have left the victim in a
coma in an Ankara hospital. He remains in a critical condition with a serious head injury.

After control secured by IDF

134. In the process of being detained, or while kneeling on the outer decks for several
hours, there was physical abuse of passengers by the Israeli forces, including kicking and
punching and being hit with the butts of rifles. One foreign correspondent, on board in his
professional capacity, was thrown on the ground and kicked and beaten before being
handcuffed. The passengers were not allowed to speak or to move and there were frequent
instances of verbal abuse, including derogatory sexual remarks about the female
passengers. Passengers were denied access to toilet facilities or made to wait for lengthy
periods before being escorted to the toilet and then forced to use the toilet with Israeli
soldiers watching and while handcuffed. Some passengers were in serious discomfort as a
result, while others used makeshift receptacles, such as plastic bottles and others still were

forced to urinate on themselves. The Israeli forces also employed dogs and some
passengers received dog bite wounds. Some witnesses who suffer from chronic medical
conditions, such as diabetes or heart conditions, were not provided access to their required
medicines which were taken by Israeli soldiers.
135. The manner in which plastic handcuffs were attached to the wrists of passengers
caused severe pain and discomfort. There was widespread misuse of the handcuffs by the
Israeli soldiers who tightened the plastic handcuffs to an extent that caused pain, swelling, a
loss of blood circulation in the hands and the loss of sensitivity in their hands and fingers.
Most passengers who requested that the handcuffs be loosened were ignored or it resulted
in the handcuffs being further tightened. A number of passengers are still experiencing
medical problems related to the handcuffing three months later and forensic reports confirm
that at least fifty-four passengers had received injuries, transversal abrasions and bruises, as
a result of handcuffing on board the Mavi Mamara.

141. One crew member observed that the soldiers were very young, seemed frightened
and that were initially poorly organized. Soldiers behaved aggressively from the outset
towards the passengers. Passengers were handcuffed with plastic ties and denied access to
the toilet. One elderly man was obliged to urinate in his clothes because he was refused
access to the toilet.

SOME BOATS TREATED BETTER THAN OTHERS

Like the Sfendoni (this was the ship with Americans, including Edward Peck)

When two Israeli soldiers entered the bridge, one of
the crew grabbed the wheel tightly, protesting that the boat was in international waters. A
soldier hit him with the butt of his gun and in the ensuing scuffle the captain was kicked in
the back, punched several times in the face and received electric shock burns from an
electroshock weapon.

145. At one point after the boat was taken under control one passenger was roughly
treated and restrained at the hands and feet with plastic ties. He screamed in protest and
because the ties were too tight. At the insistence of a medical doctor, the handcuffs were
removed. The man then ran and jumped into the sea. The passenger was later picked up by
another boat.
146. The Israeli forces took control of the boat and the passengers were made to sit down.
Some passengers were restrained with plastic ties for an initial period, but most were not.
The soldiers attempted to stop a medical doctor from treating the passengers’ injuries,
saying that the army medical officer on board would treat them. But since he was masked
and armed like the other soldiers, no passengers would consent to be treated by him. The
doctor said that they would have to shoot him to prevent him doing his job.
147. Passengers were searched one-by-one and taken to the main salon. Passengers said
that access to water and to the toilet was only possibly with difficulty after repeated
requests and not all passengers were granted access. Passengers were allowed to prepare
food which they refused to eat until an army cameraman ceased filming them for
propaganda reasons. Witnesses said that the soldiers were always aggressive and shouting
and pointing their guns, but otherwise no one was ill-treated or restrained.

Detention

192. In addition to the examples described above, there were other incidents of physical
violence being perpetrated against individual passengers deemed non-cooperative, which
resulted in physical injuries and trauma. One passenger, who made a general protest about
the way the passengers were being treated, was told by an Israeli officer: “You are in Israel
now; you have no rights”.

202. Perhaps the most shocking testimony, after that relating to the violence on the Mavi
Marmara, provided to the Mission was the consistent accounts of a number of incidents of
extreme and unprovoked violence perpetrated by uniformed Israeli personnel upon certain
passengers during the processing procedures inside the terminal at Ben Gurion International
Airport on the day of deportation. These accounts were so consistent and vivid as to be
beyond question. An intimidating number of armed soldiers and police were present inside
the terminal building. Some passengers said that these officers were “spoiling for a fight”.
All passengers had been subjected to multiple searches and were completely under the
control of the Israelis by this stage. Most passengers were continuing to refuse to sign
deportation documents and some were determined to make a point about the legality of the
process by insisting on a court hearing to confirm the deportation. None of the violence
described seems to have been justified.
203. Some passengers in the passport checking area saw an older passenger being
roughly treated after receiving what appeared to be a beating. When other passengers,
including Irish and Turkish, protested at this treatment, they were charged by soldiers using
batons. In the foray, around 30 passengers were beaten to the ground, kicked and punched
in a sustained attack by soldiers. One Irish passenger was seen being particularly badly
beaten around the head and held in a choke position to the point of near suffocation. He
identified his attackers as police officers. He was taken to a holding cell.
204. One Turkish passenger involved in the fight said that he was subsequently taken by
soldiers, handcuffed with metal cuffs, picked up by the cuffs, taken to a small room and
beaten and kicked by five more soldiers while others shielded the scene from outside. The
police intervened to stop the violence in this case.

….

205. A number of women were pushed around by soldiers, one of whom was beaten with
fists. They were also subjected to sexual taunts.
206. In a separate incident, a passenger was physically attacked by around seventeen
officers when he refused to sign deportation paper, kicked in the head and threatened at
gunpoint. A number of passengers had resolved to resist deportation in order to have the
opportunity to demonstrate their innocence in an Israeli court. This was taken as a
provocation by the Israelis.
207. One medical doctor gave a detailed account of his treatment. On arrival at the
airport, the officer accompanying him jostled him and tried to trip him up on the stairs. He
was then subjected to verbal insults as he passed through a check point. An officer slapped
him on the back of the head and when he protested he was set upon by a group of
uniformed officers, knocked to the ground and repeatedly punched and kicked. He was then
dragged out of sight of other passengers where the attacks resumed. Attempts were made to
break his fingers. He was restrained with metal handcuffs behind his back so tightly that he
lost feeling to one hand. He was then hoisted up by the cuffs and pushed against a wall.
When he asked for the cuffs to be loosened, he was told this was the price he had to pay for
attempting to go to Gaza and that “it would be good for his health”. The doctor was
wearing a jacket which clearly identified him as a medical doctor and said the attacks were
completely unprovoked.
208. There were other incidents of isolated violence against individual passengers who
were deemed to be uncooperative. One passenger was seen having his arm twisted behind
his back by police to the point that the arm broke. Another was kicked and hit by some ten
soldiers, handcuffed and taken by vehicle to another place 10-15 minutes away, where
soldiers abused him for up to two hours. When he returned to the airport, he was bleeding
from the head.

b) Reprisals against an elected member of the Knesset
254. One member of the Israeli Knesset, Ms Haneen Zouabi, was a passenger on the
Mavi Marmara. Ms. Zouabi was not detained, but was extensively interrogated.
255. As a result of her participation in the flotilla, the Knesset voted on 7 June 2010 to
remove three of parliamentary privileges available to Ms. Zouabi as a Member of the
Knesset: her privileges in overseas travel; her diplomatic passport; payment of any legal
fees in case of removal of her parliamentary immunity from criminal prosecution. The
Knesset held several sessions on the issue of her participation in the Flotilla during which
there were racist and sexist remarks and physical threats made against her. Some
parliamentarians have also called for her to face criminal prosecution and measures, such as
revoking her membership in the Knesset, were discussed. The Israeli Minister of Interior
accused Ms. Zouabi of treason and requested authorization from the Attorney General to
revoke her citizenship. To date, no criminal proceedings have been initiated against Ms.
Zouabi. Since her participation in the Gaza Flotilla, Ms. Zouabi has received many death
threats.
256. The Inter-Parliamentary Union’s Committee on the Human Rights of
Parliamentarians adopted a confidential decision at its 130th session in July 2010,89 holding
the punishment of Ms. Zouabi for exercising her freedom of speech by expressing her
political position to be unacceptable and calling on the Knesset to reconsider its decision.
257. The Mission refrains from any comment on any domestic legal proceedings which
may be sub judice. However, the Mission notes that these actions against Israeli citizens
could give rise to certain violations of Israel’s international human rights obligations,
including freedom of expression, political participation rights and rights to due process.

CONCLUSION

261. The Mission has come to the firm conclusion that a humanitarian crisis existed on
the 31 May 2010 in Gaza. The preponderance of evidence from impeccable sources is far
too overwhelming to come to a contrary opinion. Any denial that this is so cannot be
supported on any rational grounds. One of the consequences flowing from this is that for
this reason alone the blockade is unlawful and cannot be sustained in law. This is so
regardless of the grounds on which it is sought to justify the legality of the blockade.
262. Certain results flow from this conclusion. Principally, the action of the IDF in
intercepting the Mavi Marmara in the circumstances and for the reasons given on the high
sea was clearly unlawful. Specifically, the action cannot be justified in the circumstances
even under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
263. Israel seeks to justify the blockade on security grounds. The State of Israel is entitled
to peace and security like any other. The firing of rockets and other munitions of war into
Israeli territory from Gaza constitutes serious violations of international and international
humanitarian law. But action in response which constitutes collective punishment of the
civilian population in Gaza is not lawful in the present or any circumstances.
264. The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel towards the flotilla
passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally
unnecessary and incredible violence. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality. Such
conduct cannot be justified or condoned on security or any other grounds. It constituted
grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.
265. The Mission considers that several violations and offences have been committed. It
is not satisfied that, in the time available, it can say that it has been able to compile a
comprehensive list of all offences. However, there is clear evidence to support prosecutions
of the following crimes within the terms of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention:
• wilful killing;
• torture or inhuman treatment;
• wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health.

273. All the passengers on board the ships comprising the flotilla who appeared before
the Mission impressed the members as persons genuinely committed to the spirit of
humanitarianism and imbued with a deep and genuine concern for the welfare of the
inhabitants of Gaza. The Mission can only express the hope that differences will be
resolved in the short rather than the long term so that peace and harmony may exist in the
area.

V interesting last two paragraphs

277. A distinction is made between activities taken to alleviate crises and action to
address the causes creating the crisis. The latter action is characterized as political action
and therefore inappropriate for groups that wish to be classified as humanitarian. This point
is made because of the evidence that while some of the passengers were solely interested in
delivering supplies to the people in Gaza, for others the main purpose was raising
awareness of the blockade with a view to its removal, as the only way to solve the crisis.
An examination should be made to clearly define humanitarianism as distinct from
humanitarian action so that there can be an agreed form of intervention and jurisdiction
when humanitarian crises occur.
278. The Mission sincerely hopes that no impediment will be put in the way of those who
suffered loss as a result of the unlawful actions of the Israeli military to be compensated
adequately and promptly. It is hoped that there will be swift action by the Government of
Israel. This will go a long way to reversing the regrettable reputation which that country has
for impunity and intransigence in international affairs. It will also assist those who
genuinely sympathise with their situation to support them without being stigmatised.

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