As investigations into the Israeli Navy’s May takeover of the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara continue, Israeli armed forces chief Gabi Ashkenazi has continued to defend his troops’ and their use of lethal fire, which killed nine pro-Palestinian activists, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The attack on the Turkish flagged ship has received international condemnation and left damaging impressions on the relationship between Israel and Turkey – a relationship that never recovered from an Israeli-led attack on Gaza in 2008-09. According to the U.N. Goldstone Report, the attack killed between 1,166 and 1,417 Palestinians.
A September U.N. Human Rights Council report concluded that Israel was guilty of crimes outlined in article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which includes willful killing and torture or inhumane treatments. The investigation was headed by Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, a former judge with the International Criminal Court. The Israeli government rejected the findings as “biased.”
Israel set up its own commission headed by Yaakov Turkel, a retired Israeli Supreme Court judge. Ashkenazi testified before the so-called Turkel Commission of Inquiry, claiming that the commandos who descended on the deck of the ship opened live fire in self-defense.
Unwavering U.S. support of Israel will only further this type of behavior, and must be reconsidered.
There is no indication of how effective or credible the Turkel Commission will be, for it has been handpicked by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, according to Al-Jazeera. The commission consists of panelists who have spent their careers defending Israel.
There has been significant pressure from Turkey and the U.N. to accept a panel appointed by Ban Ki-Moon, the secretary general of the U.N. The panel is chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, vice-chaired by former president of Columbia Alvaro Uribe and representatives from Israel and Turkey. Israel, however, objects to it because Ki-Moon cannot guarantee that the panel will not question Israeli commandos involved in the operation.
These objections are not new. Israel has been exempted from international law for the blockade on Gaza, the attacks on the Gaza strip, and the illegal settlements in the West Bank. They have also been helped by favorable vetoes.
America has been vetoing resolutions critical of Israel since 1972, which include halting Gaza operations and bans to extend the illegal separation wall. America currently supplies its strategic ally with approximately $3 billion of foreign aid every year, according to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.
Until America and its citizens begin to recognize how much of an effect its support for Israel has on international law, Israel will persist in turning a blind eye. It will persist with its ignorant policies that threaten stability in the Middle East, and in the worst-case scenario, the nation will, as former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni describes it, continue to demonstrate “real hooliganism.”
Nader Hasan is a junior majoring in international affairs and religion.