Sense of Deception

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Middle East News category.


June 1, 2010 at 17:26 (Gaza, Israel, Palestine, War Crimes)

In this photo taken on Saturday, former South Africa president Nelson Mandela is reunited with The Elders, three years after he launched the group, in Johannesburg. Photo: AP

Nobel-winning Elders deplore Gaza flotilla attack

The Elders group of past and present world leaders, including former South African president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, on Monday condemned as “completely inexcusable” the deadly Israeli attack on a flotilla carrying aid for Gaza.

At least 10 people are reported to have been killed when Israeli commandos raided the boats on Monday in an operation that has drawn international condemnation.

“The Elders have condemned the reported killing by Israeli forces of more than a dozen people who were attempting to deliver relief supplies to the Gaza Strip by sea,” the 12—member group said in a statement issued in Johannesburg, where it met over the weekend.

The group, which was launched by Mr. Mandela on his birthday in 2007 to try to solve some of the world’s most intractable conflicts, called for a “full investigation” of the incident and urged the UN Security Council “to debate the situation with a view to mandating action to end the closure of the Gaza Strip.” “This tragic incident should draw the world’s attention to the terrible suffering of Gaza’s 1.5 million people, half of whom are children under the age of 18,” the group said.

Israel’s three—year blockade of Gaza was not only “one of the world’s greatest human rights violations” and “illegal” under international law, it was also “counterproductive” because it empowered extremists in the Palestinian territory, they said.

The Elders includes six Nobel peace prize winners — former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, former US president Jimmy Carter, detained Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Mr. Mandela and Tutu.

Norway’s first female Prime Minister Gro Brundtland; former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso; former Irish president and ex—UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson; Mozambican social activist Graca Machel; Indian women’s rights activist Ela Bhatt; and Algerian veteran UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi are the other members.



Eyewitnesses recount Israel flotilla raid

June 1, 2010 — Updated 1611 GMT (0011 HKT) // <!–[CDATA[// –>

Israeli Knesset Member Hanin Zoabi holds a press conference after  the Israeli raid on the flotilla.

Israeli Knesset Member Hanin Zoabi holds a press conference after the Israeli raid on the flotilla.

(CNN) — Some of the first accounts emerged Tuesday from eyewitnesses who were aboard several boats stormed by Israeli forces as they approached Gaza the day before.

Hanin Zoabi, a member of the Israeli parliament, was on board the Miva Marmara, the ship that was the scene of a confrontation between activists and Israeli soldiers. That clash left at least nine people dead.

The Israeli Navy fired on the ships five minutes before commandos descended from ropes that dangled from helicopters, Zoabi said during a press conference in Nazareth, Israel. She said passengers on board the ship were unarmed.

Israel has said its forces found several weapons among the passengers on the Miva Marmara. Israel also has said that its forces started shooting after passengers on the Miva Marmara assaulted them.

Zoabi said the military operation lasted about an hour and that she saw five dead bodies in that time.

She urged Israeli authorities to investigate and to let the news media interview passengers who have been detained.

Zoabi said she believes Israel has video footage of how the ten passengers were killed, and she called on Israeli authorities to release that footage.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said that of the six ships in the flotilla, the people prepared an ambush on one, a reference to the Turkish ship. But on the other five, “the people got off without a scratch.”

Huwaida Arraf, one of the Free Gaza Movement organizers, told CNN Israeli troops roughed her up when they responded aggressively to her ship, a smaller one in the flotilla that was near the Turkish vessel where the casualties occurred.

“They started coming after our ship,” she told CNN, “so we took off and they charged us also. Eventually, they overtook our ship and they used concussion grenades, sound bombs and pellets.”

She said the people on her ship tried to keep them off. She said they were told the vessel was American and the people aboard were unarmed.

But, she said “they started beating people. My head was smashed against the ground and they stepped on my head. They later cuffed me and put a bag over my head. They did that to everybody.”

Her account could not be independently verified.

Egypt Lifts Its Side Of Gaza Blockade

(AP) CAIRO — An Egyptian official says the government is temporarily lifting its blockade of the Gaza Strip to allow aid into the area a day after Israel raided an international flotilla carrying supplies to the Palestinian territory and killed nine activists.

The governor of northern Sinai, Murad Muwafi, says President Hosni Mubarak ordered the opening of the border crossing to Gaza in the town of Rafah for several days.

Muwafi says the opening of the crossing – which Egypt sealed after Gaza was taken over by Hamas militants in 2007 – is an effort to “alleviate the suffering of our Palestinian brothers after the Israeli attack” on the flotilla.

Gaza flotilla raid draws furious response from Turkey’s prime minister

‘Special relationship’ in tatters as Erdogan demands that Israel be punished for ‘bloody massacre’

Recep Tayyip Erdogan Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel had to ‘absolutely be punished by all means’. Photograph: Umit Bektas/ReutersTurkey‘s prime minister rounded passionately on Israel today, demanding that the Netanyahu government be punished for the attack on the Gaza flotilla, and accusing it of massacre, lies, and destroying all prospects of peace in the Middle East.

“Israel cannot clean the blood off its hands through any excuse,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “It is no longer possible to cover up or ignore Israel’s lawlessness. This bloody massacre by Israel on ships that were taking humanitarian aid to Gaza deserves every kind of curse.”

The trenchant warnings, in remarks to the Turkish parliament and cabinet in Ankara after Erdogan rushed home from a truncated Latin America tour, suggested the “special” relationship between Israel and the rising Muslim power straddling the Middle East and Europe is dead.

Turkish analysts viewed the flotilla attack as a tipping point in the balance of power in the Middle East, with Israel finally forfeiting its “strategic” links with an emerging regional power.

Relations between Turkey and Israel, close for decades, have been under strain since early last year when the Israeli onslaught on Gaza left 1,400 people dead. Erdogan felt personally betrayed by the Israeli invasion.

The flotilla attack looks like the final straw, ending a period of almost 20 years when Turkey played a crucial role as Israel’s Muslim ally, discreetly seeking to mediate between Israel and its Arab foes, and acting as an American proxy in places where Washington hesitated to go.

“Today is a turning point,” said the prime minister to repeated applause in Ankara. “They once again showed their ability to perpetrate slaughters … We warn Israel not to test Turkey’s patience.” Israel had to “absolutely be punished by all means,” he said.

Erdogan tapped the strong emotions erupting in Turkey where support for the Palestinians is total, but where the elite has also traditionally maintained good relations with Israel.

The Israeli attack was on a Turkish boat. Most of the dead were Turks. The flotilla was organised by a large Islamist charity based in a region of Istanbul which is militantly Muslim. The charity is said to be close to Erdogan’s governing AK party.

“Any establishment in Turkey, including the army, will not be able to explain any kind of co-operation with Israel to the public. This interception killed the possibility of working together on any subject,” Ihsan Dagi, an analyst at the Middle East Technical University, told the Zaman daily newspaper.

Beneath the wave of popular revulsion and anger at the Israeli attack, the government is pursuing a highly dynamic foreign policy enhancing its growing clout across the region. “Blood has been spilt. This is eye-popping,” said Hugh Pope, Turkey and Middle East analyst at the International Crisis Group in Istanbul. “We’re moving into a new era.”

The chill in relations with Israel started in January last year with the assault on Gaza. A few days before the invasion, Ehud Olmert, then Israeli prime minister, was sitting in Ankara at Erdogan’s residence. The Turkish leader felt stabbed in the back. In Davos in Switzerland, Erdogan stormed out of a debate with Israel’s president. Shimon Peres, saying: “They know well how to kill.”

Last year Ankara cancelled major military exercises with Israel.

Things deteriorated further this year when Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, humiliated the Turkish ambassador by deliberately placing him in a low seat and upbraiding him about a soap opera on Turkish TV in front of cameras. Ayalon told the cameramen it was important that people saw the ambassador lower “while we’re up high”.

Some prominent Turks saw the flotilla attack as deliberately targeted at Ankara.

“A message was to be delivered to Turkey when armed force was applied although there was no need for it. The message here was to make sure that Turkey is taught a lesson,” wrote Mehmet Ali Birand, a prominent commentator. “This incident will ignite our tense relationship. There is no way of fixing it. From now on we won’t be able to speak of a Turkish-Israeli alliance. Yes Turkey will be hurt, but Israel even more. The bill for losing an ally like Turkey will be very heavy.”

Ankara recently set down a marker as a key regional player by surprising the Americans with the announcement of a nuclear fuel processing deal with Iran and Brazil, extending its influence on one of the Middle East’s biggest crises – the Iranian nuclear issue.

“Erdogan is making a big play to become the leader of the Islamic street. The Egyptians are not happy. We need to watch this dynamic very closely,” said a senior European diplomat.

Witnesses cast doubt on Israel’s convoy raid account


Israeli army footage showing the violence on board the flotilla – the captions and circled points on this video were inserted by the Israeli army

Eyewitness accounts from ships raided by Israeli commandos have cast doubt on Israel’s version of events that led to the deaths of at least nine people.

German pro-Palestinian activist Norman Paech said he had only seen wooden sticks being brandished as troops abseiled on to the deck of the ship.

Israel says its soldiers were attacked with “knives, clubs and other weapons” and opened fire in self-defence.

The raid led to widespread condemnation and the UN has called for an inquiry.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that Washington would support an Israeli investigation of the raid, but said it must be “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent”, as called for by the UN.

The six ships, carrying aid and campaigners, had sailed from Cyprus in a bid to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israel seized more than 670 people with the ships and deported 50 on Tuesday. The Israeli cabinet later announced that all those still being held would be deported within 48 hours.

‘Act of piracy’

Speaking as he arrived back in Berlin wrapped in a blue blanket, Mr Paech, a member of a German opposition party, said Israel’s operation “was not an act of self-defence”.

“Personally I saw two-and-a-half wooden batons that were used… There was really nothing else. We never saw any knives.

“This was an attack in international waters on a peaceful mission… This was a clear act of piracy,” he added.

Mr Paech had been a passenger on the Turkish passenger ship Mavi Marmara where most, if not all, of the deaths occurred.

Fellow German activist Inge Hoeger said they had been on the ships “for peaceful purposes”.

“We wanted to transport aid to Gaza,” she said. “No-one had a weapon.”


Continue reading the main story Mavi Marmara just before it left Istanbul on 22 May

  • The UN Charter on the Law of the Sea says only if a vessel is suspected to be transporting weapons, or weapons of mass destruction, can it be boarded in international waters. Otherwise the permission of the ship’s flag carrying nation must be sought.
  • The charter allows for naval blockades, but the effect of the blockade on civilians must be proportionate to the effect on the military element for the blockade to be legally enforceable.
  • A ship trying to breach a blockade can be boarded and force may be used to stop it as long as it is “necessary and proportionate”.
  • The Israeli Defense Forces say soldiers acted in self-defence.
  • An investigation, either by the UN or by the ship’s flag-carrier Turkey, is required to find if the use of force was proportionate to a claim of self defence.

Q&A: Israeli raid on aid flotilla Israeli raid: What went wrong? Guide: Gaza under blockade Convoy raid sparks press fury In pictures: Aid flotilla raid protests

She added: “We were aware that this would not be a simple cruise across the sea to deliver the goods to Gaza. But we did not count on this kind of brutality.”

Activist Bayram Kalyon, arriving back in Istanbul, had also been a passenger on the Mavi Marmara.

“The captain… told us ‘They are firing randomly, they are breaking the windows and entering inside. So you should get out of here as soon as possible’. That was our last conversation with him.”

Meanwhile, in Nazareth, Israeli Arab MP Haneen Zuabi – who was on the flotilla – told a press conference that Israeli forces began firing while still in the helicopters hovering over the ships.

“We are calling for an international committee to investigate this tragedy,” she said.

Diplomatic sources in Ankara have said at least four of those killed were Turkish. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the assault was a “bloody massacre” and must be punished. He said Israel should not test Turkey’s patience.

Further criticism of Israel came from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday.

In an interview with the AFP news agency, he said Israel’s blockade of Gaza was responsible for the deadly raid.

“Had Israelis heeded to my call and to the call of the international community by lifting the blockade of Gaza, this tragic incident would not have happened,” he said.

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called on Israel to release people and boats it had seized.

He spoke after an emergency meeting of Nato ambassadors in Brussels called by Turkey.

Gaza violence

Renewed violence broke out in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, with five Palestinians reportedly killed by Israeli fire.

Two Palestinian gunmen were shot dead after crossing the border in the south of the territory, a military spokesman said.

Three more people died in an Israeli strike in the north of Gaza, according to Gaza’s emergency services. Israel said it had carried out an air strike after two rockets were fired from Gaza.

Following the Israeli sea-born raid, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered the border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip to be opened.

The Rafah crossing has been closed since 2007, although special medical cases are occasionally allowed through.

The Egyptian state news agency said the latest opening was to allow humanitarian aid through. It is not clear how long it will be kept open.

The UN Security Council issued its statement after deliberating through Monday night.


Continue reading the main story Jon Donnison

Jon Donnison
BBC News, Israel

Here at Beersheva prison in the Negev Desert, in the sweltering heat, a procession of foreign diplomats and lawyers has been trying to gain access to the prisoners.

Most have been let in and so has a party from the International Red Cross. Those who have come out have not said much more than that they have been able to see their prisoners.

Behind the blue and white 8m-high concrete walls, more than 600 people are being held.

For how long and to what purpose is not yet clear. Perspiring journalists can be seen scanning the Israeli newspapers, the headlines reading “Botched raid on Free Gaza Flotilla” and “Flotilla Fiasco”.

It said an investigation should be “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent”. It also condemned the “acts” which led to the deaths.

Barbara Plett, the BBC’s UN correspondent in New York, said the statement was the result of a compromise between Turkey and the US, Israel’s closest ally.

In its defence, Israel released footage showing soldiers landing on the Turkish ship and being apparently attacked.

Captain Arye Shalicar of the Israel Defense Forces, who was part of Monday’s operation, says the commandos began the raids armed with paintball guns.

“I was, myself, on one of the boats, the Israeli boats, approaching the flotilla,” he told the BBC’s World Today programme.

“It is true that the Israeli commander unit… came on board with paintball weapons… in order to disperse [people] if there was violence. They were ready for a violent… demonstration on board the flotilla, especially on the big boat, the Marmara.

“No-one really expected that there would be such a violent outcome of what happened.

“First, you know, the soldiers tried to disperse, but in the end when they were shot at, you know when there was shooting… from the other side, there’s no other way than turning from paint ball to live ammunition.”

The Israeli government has accused the activists of having links to Islamist groups.




The flotilla of six ships, including the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara, was on its way from Cyprus to Gaza carrying supplies including cement, paper and water purification tablets.

As the flotilla, still in international waters, neared Gaza, Israeli commandos intercepted the boats from air and sea. This image shows a soldier rappelling from a helicopter onto the upper deck of the ferry.

The Israelis say their soldiers were set upon and beaten with bats, chairs and metal poles as soon as they boarded the Mavi Marmara. Activists say the soldiers attacked them first.

As the incident escalated, the Israelis used live weapons on the activists, although the exact circumstances are unclear. This still from Turkish TV footage shows first aid being given to an injured activist.

At the end of the incident at least nine activists were dead. Israel escorted the flotilla to the port of Ashdod and detained the protesters. An online maritime tracking map shows the route taken by the boats.
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Video has emerged showing some on board the aid ship shouting anti-Jewish and radical Islamist slogans as they prepared to sail to Gaza last Friday.

The pictures, from Arabic TV, showed the campaigners in a jubilant mood. One said she was determined either to get to Gaza or to die a martyr.

Of the 679 activists brought to the Israeli port of Ashdod, only 50 agreed to be voluntarily deported and more than 30 are being treated in hospital for their injuries, reports the BBC’s Wyre Davies in Jerusalem.

That means that almost 600 people, from several countries, are still being held in detention centres across Israel and being questioned by the authorities.

Detained flotilla activists denied lawyer

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Rights groups have expressed concern over the continued detention of 480 passengers from the six Freedom Flotilla ships, reportedly moved to the Ela Prison in Israel’s south.

Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz said Tuesday that so far 50 of the Flotilla passengers had been voluntarily repatriated to their home countries, while some 629 had refused to be deported and would remain in Israeli prison until the nation decided what, if any, legal action would be taken.

Critics say Israel has little ground to lay charges, and by refusing to be deported and demanding to be returned to their ships and proceed to Gaza, activists put Israel in a difficult position.

According to a statement from the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza, none of the activists were permitted to meet with lawyers, and Free Gaza updates say no contact with the crew of the ship had been made since 3:30am Monday morning.

As a response, three human rights organizations submitted a petition to the Israeli High Court.

The petition seeks to ensure that the passengers have access to lawyers and proper health facilities, and to ensure that information about the hundreds of men and women is released to their consulates and families.

Israeli media said that the 480 would be questioned Tuesday morning, and investigators would determine whether or not they would be charged or deported. Reports say 48 have already been deported, but there is no information suggesting that any have had contact with either their consulates or the media.

It remains unclear what the activists would be charged with, as lawyers and rights experts say ships in international waters have the right to defend themselves if attacked.

Media outlets also reported that Palestinian citizens of Israel Sheikh Raed Salah, Muhammad Zeidan and Hammad Abu Da’bas will stand in Israeli court later Tuesday, where they will hear charges against them.

Sheikh Raed Salah, Muhammad Zeidan and Hammad Abu Da’bas to stand in Israeli court and hear charges against them Tuesday afternoon, Israeli media says.

Other Palestinian figures whose whereabouts has been reported on include Kamal Khatib, who is reportedly detained at Ela Prison, and Hanin Zubi, who was questioned and released.

A statement from Al-Mezan said that because the flotilla was intercepted in international waters, Israel has no right to detain the passengers of the boats, with the center’s lawyer describing the treatment akin to how Israel “treats illegal immigrants; offering them voluntarily deportation from Israel by planes.”

The reports said early indicators show that most of the activists have refused deportation and insist on returning to their ships to come to Gaza.

Al-Mezan said it expects all of the passengers to appear before a judge on Tuesday, where their detentions can be extended by 72 hours, adding that ‘the situation for a handful of Palestinian citizens of Israel is different. They are detained in Ashkelon prison and are being interrogated.”

Activists detained, imprisoned, questioned

Investigations by Al-Mezan revealed that after the passengers of the ships were seized by Israeli officers, they were kept in a detention facility in the port of the town of Ashdod in southern Israel. The port area was declared a closed military zone, a lawyer for the center said, meaning legal council for the foreign nationals was prohibited.

US should condemn Israeli raid, push for immediate talks


THE ISRAELI raid that killed at least nine activists who sought to break the blockade of Gaza is a turning point in the Middle East. The likeliest reaction is a new wave of terrorism and conflict. The less likely — but absolutely critical — reaction should be a renewed commitment to the peace process. No event could demonstrate more clearly to all parties that the current situation on the West Bank and in Gaza is not sustainable, and that a two-state agreement is essential for world peace.

The United States’ overwhelming goal is to bring about peace talks. Arab allies in the Middle East are eager for the Obama administration to join in international condemnation of Israel, and such a yearning is justified. The attack on a flotilla of ships in international waters off Gaza was unnecessarily provocative. The 600 activists, from many nations, on board the ships clearly intended to try to break an Israeli blockade and provide supplies to Palestinians in Gaza. But Israel didn’t wait for the ships to reach Israeli territory; launching a military raid in international waters was a disproportionate response. Israel bears responsbility for the loss of life. It is reasonable to inquire whether Israeli soldiers feared for their lives before firing. But the Israeli army, in ordering the raid, had to know that bloodshed was a possible outcome.

At the same time, the United States must make clear that Israel’s adversaries will gain more by restraint than by any corresponding act of violence. The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will come under intense international pressure to resolve the standoff in Gaza and to move toward peace in the West Bank. That means other nations must do all that is in their power to get Israelis and Palestinians to the bargaining table as quickly as possible.

The United States should condemn the Israeli attack, but with the overall goal of moving Israel and the Palestinians toward negotiations. The best interests of the United States and Israel and the other nations of the Middle East are aligned. They are in favor of a two-state peace agreement. Every action by President Obama should be dedicated to that purpose.

US veteran on board ‘Liberty’ was flotilla passenger


Man who served on ship bombed by Israel during 1967 war is missing in aftermath of flotilla clashes

News agencies

Published: 06.01.10, 09:13 / Israel News
// A US Navy veteran who was on board the USS Liberty, which Israel attacked during the Six Day War, is now missing after taking part in the conflict-ridden flotilla, US news agencies reported Tuesday.

Sixty-three year-old Joe Miduras, of the Texas town of Corpus Christi, has not yet made contact with his wife, Jean. She has so far remained unconcerned, however, saying she didn’t think he had been hurt.

Miduras was a soldier on board the USS Liberty, which came under fire by Israeli warplanes and torpedoes on the fourth day of the 1967 war. As a result, 34 crew members were killed. “We have no luck with Israelis,” his wife joked.

One other American man, a former diplomat, was also on board the flotilla. Eighty-one year-old Edward Peck, of Maryland, was the US ambassador to Mauritania and also served in the State Department during the Reagan presidency.

He is currently on his way home. His wife says she received an email from the Foreign Ministry saying Peck was in good condition, and estimated that he would be home on Tuesday.

On board the Marmara were also two Australian journalists, Paul McGeough and photographer Kate Geraghty. Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, Alan Oakley, said the two had been taken to Ela Prison in Beersheba.

He said he had had no contact with the two since Monday’s incidents. Oakley added that the Irish and Australian embassies in Israel would take care of the two, who are also Irish citizens.

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Oakley said the journalists had participated in the flotilla as part of their jobs as reporters. “I hope the authorities respect their rights,” he said.

The Immigration Authority said Tuesday that there had been 679 passengers from 40 different countries on board the boats, most of them Turkish and Greek. The youngest passenger was a two-year old child. Nine were killed and more than 40 injured during the clashes, seven of them IDF soldiers.

Lebanon fires on Israeli warplanes: security official


Flares trail an Israeli warplane east of the southern Lebanese port of Tyre in 2006. Lebanon's military fired anti-aircraft artillery at Israeli warplanes that were flying over Lebanon, a senior Israeli security official said on Tuesday.

Lebanon’s military fired anti-aircraft artillery at Israeli warplanes that were flying over Lebanon, a senior Israeli security official said on Tuesday.

“Our aircraft have been targeted by the Lebanese anti-aircraft guns while flying over southern Lebanon, and there was no damage,” the official who requested the anonymity told AFP.

A military spokesperson neither confirmed nor denied the report.

Lebanon issues almost daily reports of Israeli violations of its air space, but its military rarely opens fire unless the planes fly within range of its guns.

The overflights violate UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended a devastating 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah militia, but Israel argues they are needed to monitor arms smuggling.

Israel should lead investigation into attack on Gaza flotilla, says US


Turkey’s demands for international inquiry blocked at meeting of United Nations security council

Binyamin ­Netanyahu Binyamin ­Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, visiting injured soldiers in a Tel Aviv hospital. Photograph: Getty ImagesThe United States has blocked demands at the UN security council for an international inquiry into Israel‘s assault on the Turkish ship carrying aid to Gaza that left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.

A compromise statement instead calls for an impartial investigation which Washington indicated could be carried out by Israel.

Turkey pressed for the security council to launch an investigation similar to Richard Goldstone’s inquiry into last year’s fighting in Gaza which prompted protests from Israel when it concluded that Israel and Hamas were probably guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ankara wanted the investigation into the raid on the Mavi Marmara to result in the prosecution of officials responsible for the assault and the payment of compensation to the victims.

But in hours of diplomatic wrangling, the US blocked the move and instead forced a statement that called for “a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards”. The US representative at the security council discussions, Alejandro Wolff, indicated that Washington would be satisfied with Israel investigating itself when he called for it to undertake a credible investigation.

The Israeli government is certain to launch its own inquiry in part as a response to domestic criticism that its forces were ill-prepared for the resistance they met on the ship. But any self-inquiry is likely to be met with the same scepticism beyond Israel’s borders that met its investigations into last year’s Gaza war and its 2006 invasion of Lebanon which criticised aspects of the handling of the operations but did not challenge the underlying claim that they were essential for Israel’s security.

The Americans also blocked criticism of Israel for violating international law by assaulting a ship in international waters in the security council statement proposed by Turkey, the Palestinians and Arab nations.

The US instead forced a broader statement that condemned “those acts which resulted in the loss” of life.

However, the security council statement did criticise Israel’s siege of Gaza as “not sustainable” and called for a “sustained and regular flow of goods and people to Gaza, as well as unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza”.

Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, called the raid on the Mavi Marmara “tantamount to banditry and piracy; it is murder conducted by a state”.

The French ambassador to the UN, Gerard Araud, said “there was disproportionate use of force and a level of violence which nothing justifies and which we condemn”.

Wolff told the security council that the organisers of the flotilla had been irresponsible in trying to deliver aid by sea in the face of the Israeli blockade.