The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 wishes to express sympathy for the Palestinian people who continue after more than 43 years to live under Israeli occupation that daily violates many of their fundamental and inalienable human rights.
As international outrage spreads at the Israeli elite commando attack on an unarmed humanitarian convey in the middle of the night on international waters, Israel is desperately trying to rebrand the incident as one of self-defence. It is nothing new for Israel, and other aggressing powers, to smear their victims as perpetrators. Afterall, unjustifiable murder is too jarring to stomach.
Yet, Amnesty International released a statement about Israel’s excessive use of force, further stating that Israel’s version of events begs credibility. Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu proclaimed the actions of Israel as “completely inexcusable”. According to Craig Murray, specialist on maritime law, “To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal.”
Deported activists tell a horrifying story of the use of electric shock, live ammunition, smoke bombs, gas canisters, beatings, and seizure of all evidence on cameras. Greek activist Michalis Grigoropoulos said, “They took us hostage, pointing guns at our heads…There was absolutely nothing we could do.” A Turkish woman, with her 1 year old baby, recalls “The ship turned into a lake of blood.”
Israeli-Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi, who was on board, demanded an international inquiry: “It was clear from size of force that boarded ship that purpose was not to stop sail, but to cause largest number of fatalities to prevent future initiatives.” In contradiction of the carefully managed public relations campaign, a top Israeli Navy commander brags to the Jerusalem Post that “We boarded the ship and were attacked as if it was a war.” The names of the 10-19 dead, 60-80 injured, and hundreds detained have yet to be released.
One year after Israel’s war on Gaza, Al Jazeera talks to the UN special rapporteur Professor Richard Falk on Palestine and asks him about his views on that war, the impact of the Obama presidency and the future of the peace process.
Richard Falk, the United Nations Human Rights Rapporteur in the Occupied Territories, in The Nation:
Now that there is a cease-fire in Gaza, questions are emerging about what Israel has achieved. Of course, the lopsided casualty figures and Israel’s military dominance certainly make it the battlefield winner. But such a “mission accomplished” assessment is as misleading in occupied Palestine as it was in Iraq. Although Hamas could not come close to matching Israel’s armed might, it may have won a major battle for Palestinian hearts and minds. Reports from the West Bank, Gaza and the Palestinian diaspora suggest widespread anger at the Palestinian Authority for its passivity and a rise in support for Hamas, even among secular Palestinians, in appreciation of its determined resistance to the brutality of the Israeli occupation and military operations. If Hamas becomes the dominant political force in all of occupied Palestine when the next elections are held, Israel will be the loser.