Pressure mounts on Israel, accused of suppressing footage

Pressure mounts on Israel, accused of suppressing footage

 Pressure mounts on Israel, accused of suppressing footage -  International pressure on Israel is likely to grow as an expert panel  investigating Israel’s boarding of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla four months  ago has said Israel is suppressing footage of the incident it seized  from the passengers, and a lawyer who investigated the May raid for the  UN Human Rights Council said Israel’s raid could end up as a case before  the International Criminal Court (ICC).

International pressure on Israel is likely to grow as an expert panel investigating Israel’s boarding of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla four months ago has said Israel is suppressing footage of the incident it seized from the passengers, and a lawyer who investigated the May raid for the UN Human Rights Council said Israel’s raid could end up as a case before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The three independent, UN-appointed experts said on Tuesday that Israeli soldiers confiscated photos and video material from more than two dozen journalists and others aboard the flotilla during the raid, which led to the death of nine pro-Palestinian activists.
“When the military took over the ships, they scrupulously confiscated all photographic material,” said Trinidadian judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, a former judge at the ICC who chaired the panel. “All cameras were seized, all cell phones were seized, all laptops were confiscated.”
“From this one would conclude that part of the strategy, as we indicated in our report, was to control information and to have a monopoly on versions as to what existed,” he said.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Yigal Palmor, rejected the charge, saying the report’s authors had no way of knowing what footage Israel has and, therefore, what — if anything — was suppressed.
On the issue of the ICC, the fact-finding mission of the UN Human Rights Council investigating the raid was not asked to make any recommendations and did not do so. But the suggestion that the case could end up at the ICC — to which Israel is not a signatory — maintains pressure on Israel over the incident.
Pakistan, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), proposed a resolution on Monday at the council calling on the UN General Assembly to consider the report of the three-member fact-finding mission. The council will vote on the resolution on Friday and it is likely to pass because the OIC and its allies have a majority in the 47-member body.
The mission, with which Israel refused to cooperate, found that the commando raid, in which nine pro-Palestinian activists — eight Turks and a Turkish-American — were killed was unlawful and violated human rights and international law.
Israel, which has blockaded Hamas-ruled Gaza since 2007, dismissed the UN investigators’ work in advance as unnecessary and irrelevant, and has said the human rights council is hopelessly biased against the Jewish state anyway.
The Mavi Marmara, the ship on which the nine were killed, was flying the flag of the Comoros Islands, which is a party to the Rome Statute setting up the ICC, Sir Desmond de Silva, a prominent British lawyer on the mission, said on Tuesday. As a result the case could theoretically end up before the ICC, he said. “It is in the hands of others to take forward or not as the case may be,” de Silva told a news conference.
Like other members of the mission, de Silva rejected US and Israeli statements that its work had been biased. “We’ve done, I think, an honest job in a reasonable time and so far as my conscience is concerned we’ve arrived at decisions that were spot on,” he said. “We went where the evidence led us.”
Phillips said under the principle of “complementarity,” a country had the right to conduct its own investigation into serious allegations before they went to the ICC, provided it was a genuine investigation and not a sham. “Whether or not the principle of complementarity can be said to apply to the steps that the government of Israel has taken is doubtful in my view,” he added.


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