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 27 September 2010
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Some of Gaza flotilla victims were summarily executed: fact finding mission

Six of the people who died when Israeli forces intercepted a flotilla of six ships with humanitarian aid to Gaza in May this year were summarily executed according to a fact finding mission on the incident. The Chairman of the mission reported to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday. UN Radio's Geraldine Adams reports.

flotilla ship

flotilla ship

The Chairman of the independent fact finding mission, Karl Hudson-Phillips told the Human Rights Council that the government of Israel did not cooperate with the mission.


He said the mission considers that the conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel towards the flotilla passengers was disproportionate and excessive.

Mr. Hudson-Phillips said the Israeli security forces demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary violence which resulted in the deaths of nine passengers and severe injuries to many others.

"From the evidence of passengers and the analyses supplied by a forensic pathologist and ballistic expert, six of the deceased were victims of summary executions. Two of them were shot they were severely injured and could not defend themselves. One deceased person had what is called a soft baton charge, called otherwise a bean bag, normally used for crowd control from a distance, lodged in his brain. The mission found that this was a discharge into the brain from a very close range, a sort of coup de grace into the right temple, suggestive of an execution type killing."

Mr. Hudson-Phillips said the mission found that serious violations of both humanitarian law and human rights law occurred during and after the incident.

Reporting for UN Radio, Geraldine Adams.
Duration: 1'16"

Sound bites

Karl Hudson-Phillips, Chairman of the independent fact finding mission

"From the evidence of passengers and the analyses supplied by a forensic pathologist and ballistic expert, six of the deceased were victims of summary executions. Two of them were shot they were severely injured and could not defend themselves. One deceased person had what is called a soft baton charge, called otherwise a bean bag, normally used for crowd control from a distance, lodged in his brain. The mission found that this was a discharge into the brain from a very close range, a sort of coup de grace into the right temple, suggestive of an execution type killing."
Duration: 34"

Karl Hudson-Phillips, Chairman of the independent fact finding mission cut 2

"The two requests for cooperation information from the Israeli government proved fruitless. Before leaving this particular topic, the mission wishes to assure the Council that it gives serious consideration to the question of the existence of more than one inquiry into the same incident. With respect to the panel appointed by the Secretary-General, after careful examination of its mandate, the commission decided that it was not in fact a fact finding but rather a review panel. As far as the Israeli and Turkish inquiries were concerned, the mission contented itself with the observation that because both Israel and Turkey were deeply involved with the incident, there could be legitimate concern about the impartiality of their involvement in inquiries."
Duration: 43"

Karl Hudson-Phillips, Chairman of the independent fact finding mission cut 3

"In particular, with respect of the Israeli Commission under Judge Tirkel, the mission observed that important aspects were being heard in closed session from which the public was excluded. In addition, no military personnel who participated in the incident and were in the best position to testify were permitted to be called as witnesses. Evidence was given on their behalf on the basis of the report to the commission by Chief of General Staff. This is properly classified as hearsay evidence."
Duration: 34"

Karl Hudson-Phillips, Chairman of the independent fact finding mission cut 4

"Further, it is appropriate at this stage to state that the authorities in Israel knew the identities of all the passengers whom they detained, photographed, fingerprinted, DNA tested. By contrast, the mission, as far as we know, the Tirkel commission, were deprived of any information as to the identities of those who took part in the Israeli interception. Of necessity the mission paid close attention to eye witnesses who appeared in person and gave their evidence. Many of those who appeared before the mission bore evidence of gunshot injuries which had not yet fully healed as it indicated that further surgery is necessary to complete treatment. One passenger who had been shot actually showed evidence of a colostomy, which required further surgery to complete restoration."
Duration: 52"

Karl Hudson-Phillips, Chairman of the independent fact finding mission cut 5

"The mission realized very early that the Israeli government had taken extreme steps to control all visual material of the event. What it had released in public represented a minor fraction of the actual evidence in their possession. We found that as a fact. In the light of the seizure of cameras, CCTV footage and digital devices and the suppression of all material, with disclosure of a selected and minute quantity, quality of it, the mission was obliged to treat with extreme caution the versions of events released by the Israeli authorities where those versions differed from the evidence of eye witnesses who appeared before it."
Duration: 44"