The Women’s International League for peace and Freedom joins with civil society organisations and States in condemning the unprovoked attack on the flotilla taking aid to Gaza. This is a seminal moment in the history of the United Nations. A failure by member States to respond using all appropriate mechanisms to address violations of international law by Israel will bring the organisation into disrepute and cause greater instability and insecurity in an already insecure region.
Many States have already called for an investigation. The Women’s international league for peace and freedom endorses that call, but would go further. A Human Rights Council mandated enquiry under the leadership of Richard Goldstone lead to a well researched and strong report on atrocities committed during the invasion of 2009. Instead of implementing its recommendations certain States chose instead to vilify its authors and detract from its findings. The dilitatory responses have meant that thus far there has been no accountability . This must not be repeated. The system cannot again be seen to fail. WILPF believes that a broader investigation is needed which incorporates, not just the killings on the 31st May but looks at a system wide failure in the mechanisms for protection.
Israeli forces have prevented humanitarian aid from entering Gaza before. The first ship organised by Free Gaza set sail in December 2008. It was rammed at sea by the Israeli navy, crippling the vessel and threatening lives. Israeli forces were trained to stop the flotilla. Israel’s foreign minister Avignor Liberman publicly stated;
“We really have all determination and political will to prevent this provocation against us….. we’re ready at any cost… to prevent this provocation”. A special detention centre had been set up in Ashdod, south of Tel Aviv where the flotilla passengers were going to be detained.
With this in the public domain, WILPF would ask; what did the friends of Israel advise? Did they assert the absolute necessity of compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights? Or did they promise to veto any subsequent Resolution condemning the action and, for example, referring the matter to the ICC?
What of the States who arm and provide weapons systems for Israel? Some of which may have actually been used in the assault on the flotilla, killing and injuring people of various nationalities. WILPF will argue that States are and have been on notice since Goldstone reported, that it is reasonably foreseeable that Israel will use these weapons in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. The complicity of States selling arms to Israel must also come under scrutiny. Due diligence is required of the selling States and they must be also be held to account. WILPF calls on the members of the Human Rights Council, to ensure that this is done by a Resolution requiring an expansive investigation into the assault on the flotilla, the role of other actors and the extent of compliance with the standards that must be applied in such circumstances. States must re examine their polices in light of the Israeli conduct and WILPF calls for consideration of a trade and arms embargo on that country.
A WILPF section member from Israel stated:” We, here in Israel are running from one protest to the other, we are so ashamed and upset that words cannot express….”
Her truth must be that of the international community. We must stand ashamed at what has happened and we must hold Israel to account .