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Investigating the Freedom Flotilla Attack

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Investigating the Freedom Flotilla Attack - by Stephen Lendman

On June 2, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) approved formation of an international committee (like the Goldstone Commission) to probe the Flotilla attack, saying it will include lawyers and international law and human rights experts, its findings to be presented in September (during the Council's three week session in Geneva) after visiting Gaza and contacting Israel, Turkey, Greece, and the Freedom Flotilla coalition.

HRC's panel includes:

-- Desmond de Silva, a UK lawyer and former chief prosecutor for the Sierra Leone Special Court investigation into widespread killings there;

-- Karl Hudson-Phillips, a former International Criminal Court (ICC) judge and former Trinidad and Tobago attorney general and parliament member; and

-- Malaysia's Mary Shanthi Dairiam, active in gender equality issues, including on the UN Development Program's gender equity task force.

In emergency session, the HCR criticized Israel's "outrageous attack on aid ships attempting to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip," calling it "piracy, (an) act of aggression, (a) brutal massacre, (an) act of terrorism, (a) war crime, (a) crime against humanity -unprovoked....unwarranted....atrocious, (and) brutal," calling activists "peaceful...innocent...noble...unarmed, (and) defenseless," setting the tone for what's to come, HRC president Sihasak Phuangketkeow saying:

"This is not about finger-pointing. It's about establishing the facts of what took place because the incident was a humanitarian tragedy and it's in the interests of everyone. So I'm hopeful and I'm urging all the parties concerned to render their full cooperation, because it is in their interests and it's in the interests of the international community as a whole."

"The expertise, independence and impartiality of the members of the mission will be devoted to clarifying the events which took place that day and their legality."

Israel's response was expected, a foreign ministry official saying the HRC acted in haste as part of its "obsession against Israel. The Israeli probe, conducted with transparency, makes the organization's probe completely unnecessary."

Israel, of course, won't cooperate, and plans a whitewash like its July 20 Gaza Operational Investigations: Second Update, responding to the Goldstone Commission and other reports of widespread Cast Lead crimes of war and against humanity.

No serious investigation was conducted, the report citing only four criminal indictments - two for using a minor as a human shield, one regarding an attack on a family waving a white flag, and the other for credit card theft.

Hundreds of other serious crimes weren't addressed, including high level culpability, a few low-level soldiers marginally hung out to dry to absolve government and IDF officials - Israel's usual coverup of appalling war crimes.

Evidence of the Report's Whitewash

On January 4, 2009, the Abu Hajjaj family was attacked, despite carrying clearly visible white flags, resulting in two deaths, Majeda Abu Hajjaj and Raya Abu Hajjaj, mother and sister. Yet Israel "found gaps between (soldiers and Palestinian) testimonies," making it "impossible to make a criminal connection between the described incident," relying instead on soldier versions to whitewash the crime's severity. In addition, investigators gave no credibility to complainants' sworn affidavits, or requested corroborating evidence to confirm them.

Willfully killing civilians is murder, a grave Fourth Geneva violation. One soldier was charged with manslaughter for shooting a "man," yet none were killed, only a mother and her sister.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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