The UN commissioned Palmer Report into the events of the 2010 raid on the Gaza-bound aid sail may have determined that Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza is legal, but the findings concerning what was defined as the "excessive use of force" by Navy Commandoes may have laid the evidentiary basis for future lawsuits against Israel military personnel.
"The report won't assist in any legal action against Israeli soldiers, but it will probably be used in attempts to scare us with such action," Prof. Robbie Sabel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who once served as a legal advisor to the Foreign Ministry, told Ynet on Friday.
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Sabel said that while the report's conclusions against the IHH members' assault of IDF soldiers boarding the Turkish vessel were important, the conclusions listed against the IDF's use of force were still more damning: "We should have applied additional warnings before having the soldiers board the ship, like use water cannons or fire in midair near the ship. The criticism is not without merit."
Attorney Colonel (Res.) Ilan Katz, the former deputy judge advocate general, explained that even if Israel eventually agreed to Turkey's demand and apologized – it will not prevent future litigation against IDF soldiers.
IDF soldier attacked on the Marmara (Archives: Reuters)
"In such a case, Turkey may not seek legal recourse as a nation, but it will not stop the family of one of the victims from initiating legal proceedings."
Katz explained that the report laid the evidentiary basis which could assist various elements should they pursue legal action, but qualified his statement, saying that the fact that the maritime blocked was determined as legal, helps to balance that out.
If the report would have questioned the legality of the naval blockade than the IDF's actions could have been challenged at the International Crimes Court. "But we're not there. The question is what happened after the commandos boarded the ship, and it has already been determined that they acted in self defense; ergo, there is no reason to order a criminal investigation."
Katz further added that he believes that the IDF should publically state that should any serviceman find himself facing such legal action overseas, the State will supply them with an adequate defense.
Over all, Israeli legalists agree that Israel should view the report favorably. "I don't agree with everything in the report, but overall it is a fare one," Prof. Sabel said.
"The report asserts the right to self defense against operations emanating from Gaza, that is should be considered an international conflicts and as such, that it is subjected to the regular laws of war.
"We're definitely better off right now, because there is an unequivocal statement that the blockade has been placed as a measure of self defense," he added.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report
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