Highlights from UNHRC “Urgent Debate on Israel’s Raid on Flotilla”

Below are highlights from the UN Human Rights Council debate held yesterday and today, followed by UN Watch’s response.

UN rights chief Navi Pillay opened the debate by saying she was “shocked” that “humanitarian aid would be met with such violence,” and “unequivocally condemned” Israel’s “unnecessary use of force.”

The Palestinian representative accused Israel of “believing it is above the law.” Turkey decried Israel’s “great breach of international law.” Egypt for the Non-Aligned Movement said that the incident was “another example of Israel’s total avoidance of international law and disregard for international norms.”

Austria, Iceland, Panama and El Salvador urged an investigation. However, Canada urged all states “not to rush to conclusions before all facts are known.” Canada expressed concern for the condition of people living in Gaza but “can strongly understand Israel’s concerns about terrorism from Gaza that threatens their national security.”

Spain for the EU expressed “deepest concerns about the events.” Pakistan for the Islamic Group protested the “unprovoked outrageous attack on the ships carrying humanitarian aid… Israel should no longer be allowed to release a reign of terror on Palestinians.” Israel’s “heinous crime” was “a brutal reminder of its continued total disregard for human rights and humanitarian law.”

The USA was “deeply disturbed” by the recent violence and “regrets the tragic loss of life and injuries.” The Obama Administration “strongly urged the Israeli government to investigate the incident fully.” The USA remains “deeply concerned by the suffering of civilians in Gaza.” At the same time, Hamas’ arms smuggling and commitment to terrorism “undermines security and prosperity for Palestinians and Israelis alike.”

Sudan for the Arab Group stated that “this Israeli attack against the freedom flotilla is a violation of both maritime law and human rights law.”

Cuba slammed “the international powers that provide Israel with a cloak to protect and shield,” saying they “must answer to history.”

China called the events “shocking.” Yemen condemned Israel’s actions for showing “all forms of international terrorism and piracy.” Lebanon called Israel’s actions one more addition to “Israel’s long list of Israeli terror.”

UN Watch Intervention
Delivered by Hillel Neuer, 2 June 2010

Click here for video

Mr. President, this debate turns on one question: Was the flotilla humanitarian, or not?

To answer this question, let us first examine the objective of the organizers, and then the means they used.

Evidence of the organizer’s objective can be found in the path they chose, and the path they rejected.

Israel, which in the past 18 months has delivered over 1 million tons of aid to Gaza, offered to receive the flotilla’s cargo in the nearby port of Ashdod, and, after inspection, to deliver it to Gaza. The organizers, however, rejected this offer. Because they wanted to create a political provocation; they were looking for a physical confrontation.

Mr. President, is this a humanitarian path?

Further evidence can be found in their state of mind, as demonstrated by their own words.

Before the ships sailed, supporters chanted “Intifada, Intifada,” and “Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews, the army of Muhammed will return.” One of them declared that the aim of the flotilla was either of two “good things… achieving martyrdom or reaching Gaza.”

Mr. President, is this a humanitarian state of mind?

Let us also examine the means they used: metal bars, knives, axes, and even guns.

Mr. President, are these humanitarian means?

No. This operation was organized by an extremist group, the IHH, with extensive and documented ties to terrorist groups. Their objective and means had nothing to do with humanitarianism.

Now, seated around me here are representatives of some of the world’s leading humanitarian organizations, from the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN Refugee Agency, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Let us ask them: Are these the ways of humanitarians?

No, Mr. President, the resolution that is before us today – introduced by such countries as Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Sudan – is an insult to the world’s real humanitarians.

Thank you, Mr. President.  

(Written text of UN Watch’s speech, as it was provided to the UN for its official record)


UN Watch