JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel and Jewish defense groups slammed a U.N. Human Rights Council report accusing Israel of breaking international law when it intercepted a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.
The report, which was released Sept. 22, called the actions by Israeli naval commandos when they boarded the Turkish-flagged ship the Marmara "disproportionate and brutal." The commandos "demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence," it said.
The international body must reject Israel’s version of the May 31 incident, a council panel urged in its report, which called for "prosecution against Israel for willful killing and torture."
Nine Turkish citizens were killed in the incident, in which one ship in a flotilla of six tried to evade Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the report "biased and distorted."
Israel’s state inquiry into the flotilla incident began its work in May and reportedly is nearing completion. The panel is headed by retired Supreme Court justice Jacob Turkel.
A separate inquiry by the United Nations was commissioned by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The American Jewish Committee condemned the Human Rights Council report in a statement issued Sept. 22.
"What’s needed now is not an investigation into Israel’s right of self-defense, but one that examines the purpose of the U.N. Human Rights Council," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "With each new reflexive attack on Israel, including this latest shameful report, the Council makes painfully evident the case for its built-in bias and, consequently, inability to deal with the facts as they are."
"The fact that this report has been praised by Hamas, whose terrorist regime is the reason for the Gaza blockade, tells you everything you need to know."
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the report "extremely fair and based on solid evidence. We appreciate that. It meets our expectations."
Turkey repeatedly has called on Israel to formally apologize for the incident and to pay restitution to the families of the victims.