While the report affirmed the legitimacy of Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip for security reasons, the authors called the loss of life resulting from Israel’s raid “unacceptable.” The report called on Israel to express “regret” — something Israeli officials have already rejected — and pay compensation to the families of victims.
The panel also placed some blame on the flotilla organizers. The report admonished flotilla participants for acting “recklessly” in their attempt to break the blockade of Gaza and questioned the motives of a Turkish Islamic NGO that spearheaded the effort, though it acknowledged that the “majority of the flotilla participants had no violent intentions.”
One of the victims of the raid, Furkan Doğan, was an American citizen of Turkish descent who lived in Turkey. The report described the circumstances of his death and its immediate aftermath:
Furkan Doğan received five gunshot wounds in the back of his head, nose, left leg, left ankle and in the back, all from close range. A citizen of the United States, Mr. Doğan was a 19-year-old high school student with ambitions of becoming a medical doctor. Mr. Doğan’s motionless, wounded body was kicked and shot upon, execution-style by two Israeli soldiers.
In a different section, the report goes on:
At least one of those killed, Furkan Doğan, was shot at extremely close range. Mr. Doğan sustained wounds to the face, back of the skull, back and left leg. That suggests he may already have been lying wounded when the fatal shot was delivered, as suggested by witness accounts to that effect.
No evidence has been provided to establish that any of the deceased were armed with lethal weapons.
The panel found those facts to be “of particular concern,” and expressed consternation that Israel did not provide any information about the specific killings beyond decrying the “chaotic” atmosphere. The report did acknowledge that once the Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish boat, the Mavi Marmara, they were compelled to use force because of resistance from flotilla participants.
The raid on the boat soured relations between Turkey and Israel, formerly strong Middle East allies. Both have close security relationships with the U.S. With Israel’s refusal to accept recommendations of the report, a thaw in relations in the near term seems unlikely.
Tablet’s Marc Tracy points out on Twitter that Israel says it is willing to express regret. According to today’s New York Times, talks over an Israeli apology to Turkey “ended in failure with Israel saying it is willing to express regret and pay compensation but not offer the full apology Turkey is demanding.”