Arab News (Editorial)
June 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Why else is it asking the UN to suspend attempts to organize an international inquiry into the deadly raid on the Mavi Marmara that sought to break the blockade of Gaza?

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been trying to organize an international inquiry as called for by the Security Council. Israel won’t let him.

If Israel genuinely believes its troops had to kill, in self-defense, nine aid workers aboard the ship, then it should welcome such an inquiry into the incident. Instead, Israel seeks to conduct its own investigation into what happened in those fateful early hours of May 31. That would be akin to asking a murderer to launch his own inquest as to why and how he killed, then let him, and him alone, come out with a verdict.

Israel’s explanation for wanting to go it alone is that new attempts to break the blockade are still being organized; as such, any inquiry should be shelved. This is precisely why an independent account of the incident is called for, to prevent another tragedy on the high seas. Every member of the international community has the right to assist the Palestinians in their struggle to achieve their right to self-determination; that would include aid-carrying flotillas. Will Israel blast every ship that comes its way, then profess it did so in self-defense? Reports indicate that Iran, Israel’s arch nemesis, has decided against sending a blockade-busting ship to Gaza. But what catastrophe awaits were Tehran to change course?

Israel has repeatedly invoked its right of self-defense to fight back the Palestinians. But it cannot justify the use of force to perpetuate an illegal situation. Thus, if one views the creation of Israel as being illegal, then so is any force used to maintain this illegal situation.

Israel sees itself as entitled to stop the boats based on its suspicion that they will assist the self-determination struggle of the Gaza people. The problematic nature of this argument is readily apparent. How can a state that is violating international law by subjecting an occupied people to inhuman and collective punishment justify actions to maintain its illegal ways? The simple answer is that it cannot. It is violating international law merely by maintaining an illegal regime, and just about everything it does that serves that end is illegal.

Even if Israel had been entitled to use force against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, it would have been able to use only proportionate and necessary force.

Israel hopes the furor surrounding its savage assault on the flotilla will eventually blow over as has been the case with other no less tragedies that have darkened the skies, land and seas of the Middle East. However, by killing international activists in what looks like cold blood, Israel has provoked severe diplomatic tension on multiple fronts, and by its own making, brought to the fore its blockade of the Gaza Strip which, G8 leaders stated in their meeting in Toronto, is “not sustainable” in its current form and must be changed to allow more aid through to its Palestinian population.

The blockade must be broken completely and Israel brought to justice for killing those who tried to break it.


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