A state`s investigation of its own armed forces and their conduct is not absurd--or at least it shouldn`t be. In fact, the practice is encouraged in international law, which seeks to balance a state`s sovereignty with universally applicable laws so to speak. However, in the case of Israel, which has empowered its military to investigate itself on the one hand and whose recent investigations have done more to justify its foreign policy than it has to uphold principles of international law, absurdity is an understatement.
On July 12th, the Israeli military announced that its Flotilla Killings are justified. While the investigation acknowledges poor coordination and errors in intelligence gathering leading up to and during its operation, it concludes that the murder of nine Turkish civilian-activists was justified. Moreover, the investigators praised the Israeli commandos who boarded the ship and used lethal force against activists who allegedly carried knives and sticks for their "professionalism, bravery, and resourcefulness."
Bravery? The largest nuclear power in the Middle East considers its most elite commandos brave for opening fire on civilians carrying sticks and knives on a boat they ambushed? That sounds more like a bunch of trigger-happy who freaked out. And as far as resourceful or professional, those are certainly not the choice-words used by the litany of countries who reacted in horror to Israel`s bloody attack: Argentina, Bolvia, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, North Korea, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Uzebkistan, Australia, Kenya, and New Zealand all condemned the Israeli attack while Ecuador, Nicaragua, South Africa, and Turkey either downgraded their diplomatic relations or withdrew their ambassadors from Israel in direct response.
Diane Feinstein, chair of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, was only one of the many voices who called for an impartial investigation into the Flotilla raid. It seems that despite the severity of the attack and the cacophony of voices calling for an attack--nothing was enough to compel Israel to conform to international norms--ostensibly one of the privileges of being the closest ally to the world`s superpower. A close examination of the investigation itself, as conducted here by Professor Stephen Zunes, makes the inextricability of law and politics painfully impossible to ignore.
Its not clear what`s worse: Israel`s flagrant rejection of international norms for conducting an impartial investigation or its laughable conclusions that the appropriate response to the murder committed by its trained military commandos is a slap on the back for a job well done. The upside of this tragedy is that Israel`s three-year blockade on Gaza, which it still occupies, is finally being questioned globally on legal in addition to moral grounds.(See The Guardian; Christian Science Monitor; and The Jerusalem Post). Perhaps the law will be useful--especially if the UN finds it relevant enough to cite.