Fifteen months ago Israeli forces raided a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying aid, killing nine civilians in the process. A U.N. report, which acknowledges that its sources are limited and its conclusions are not definitive, has found that Israel’s blockade in international waters was legal.

The report also determined that Israeli commandos who boarded the main vessel, which originated in Turkey, came under attack and had a right to defend themselves, although it reportedly chastised Israel for its deadly use of force and treatment of detained passengers.

According to The New York Times, the report was meant to help repair relations between Turkey and Israel, but neither side is pleased with its findings. Turkey maintains that the blockade is illegal and that other U.N. decisions have backed that claim.

Israel has offered compensation for the nine deaths (eight of those killed were Turkish citizens, the other was of Turkish extraction), but Turkey wants a full apology. — PZS

The New York Times:

The 105-page report, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, was completed months ago. But its publication was delayed several times as Turkey and Israel sought to reconcile their deteriorating relationship and perhaps avoid making the report public. In reactions from both governments included in the report, as well as in interviews, each objected to its conclusions. Both said they believed that the report, which was intended to help mend relations, would instead make reconciliation harder.

Turkey is particularly upset by the conclusion that Israel’s naval blockade is in keeping with international law and that its forces have the right to stop Gaza-bound ships in international waters, which is what happened in the 2010 episode. That conclusion oversteps the mandate of the four-member panel appointed by the United Nations secretary general and is at odds with other United Nations decisions, Turkey argued.

The report noted that the panel did not have the power to compel testimony or demand documents, but instead had to rely on information provided by Israel and Turkey. Therefore, its conclusions cannot be considered definitive in either fact or law.

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