An Israeli raid on a boat trying to deliver aid to Gaza in May was illegal, according to the UN Human Rights Council.
A three-person Rights Council panel concluded that the military interception of the ship, in which nine passengers were killed, was “disproportionate” and betrayed “an unacceptable level of brutality.”
The activists on board the ship were trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza. The UN investigators say the blockade itself was unlawful as a “humanitarian crisis” existed in Gaza.
Israel responded by slamming what it called the “biased, politicised and extremist approach” of the Human Rights Council. It has previously said the blockade was meant to prevent weapons arriving in Gaza and says the commandos who took part in the raid acted in self-defence.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the panel’s verdict came as no surprise as the Human Rights Council had blamed Israel even before the investigation.
A separate UN enquiry into the raid is still on-going. Israel is also leading its own investigation, to which two foreign observers have been invited.