dinsdag 8 juni 2010

The Israeli Attack on Humanitarian Aid Ships: An EU Perspective

(article by guest author Mustafa Kutlay)

It was reported on Monday, May 31, that the Israeli forces stormed one of the six ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. This operation is a clear breach of international law. The EU should show her unequivocal resistance to the violation of international law by condemning Israel.

Monday, May 31, Israeli forces stormed one of six ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, klling 10 people and wounding many. Since the Israeli officials work hard to avoid any news release, the exact figures are not known by the world media.

The professional Israeli armed forces attacked civilians, who had no guns, no rockets, not even knives. This is a clear breach of the human rights and international law, say many experts. Yet, having taken the past events into consideration, it is not a new thing for Israel.

As everybody followed from the media, on the 8th day of the air and sea strikes in January 2009, Israel sent 20,000 soldiers and hundreds of tanks to ‘annihilate' Hamas. In fact, Israel used collective punishment strategy under the disguise of the Ben Gurionism Doctrine. That is why, it bombed the refugee camps and UN Schools, the places in which too many children and women shelter. As a result many innocent civilians died, many of them wounded. Moreover, the rudimentary infrastructure in the region collapsed.

As a result, the latest attack by Israel military forces was not a surprise for anybody. What should be the real surprise for the world, I think, are the attitudes of international community, especially the EU. The EU in the previous attacks in 2009 showed a reluctance stance and fragmented reaction. Even some officials condemned Hamas unilaterally and straightforwardly rejected Israel's responsibility in killing the civilians. For example, the term presidency of the EU at that time, Czech Republic has tacitly approved the actions of the Israeli soldiers by saying that Israel's actions are "defensive, not offensive. Then, Angela Merkel accused Hamas as the sole responsible of the existing tragedy.

These statements were quite destructive for the credibility and reputation of the EU, because the EC legislation is based on two basic pillars which are proportionality and subsidiarity. While taking any kind of legal action, EU takes these concepts into consideration at first hand. However, regarding the Gaza tragedy, it was the proportionality principle that the Israeli tanks tramped over.

Reactions from the EU

One more time, we have witnessed that the Israeli forces violated the proportionality principle by killing 10 unarmed civilians carrying humanitarian aid, according to latest reports. This time, the attitude of the international community, especially the EU, should be unequivocal. The international community should position itself against Israel's extreme use of military power and should condemn the violation of international human rights. According to recent statements, Catherine Ashton officially condemned Israel on behalf of the EU and extended her sympathies to the families of the dead and wounded and is demanding a full inquiry into the circumstances of how this event happened. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, and Spain, which holds the rotating EU presidency, also condemned the Israel attacks unequivocally.

This time the EU should continue on the line of the first statements made by the abovementioned leaders. This time the EU should show her unequivocal resistance to the violation of international law by condemning Israel's illegal and unethical military operation.

Mustafa Kutlay is a researcher at the International Strategic Research Organization (USAK) of Ankara, Turkey. A non-partisan, non-profit and non-governmental research organisation established in 2004, USAK is Turkey's foremost source of independent and balanced information on international relations and security issues affecting Turkey and its region.

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