On 27 September 2010 the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva released its analysis of the 31 May 2010 boarding of the large passenger liner, Mavi Marmara, by forces of the Israeli Navy. The ship was interdicted in the eastern Mediterranean Sea by Israeli commandoes, who rappelled vertically onto the top deck of the ship from a helicopter. The boarding incident and ensuing melee that unfolded on the deck of the ship left several Israeli military members seriously injured and resulted in the death of nine Turkish nationals. The event ignited a firestorm of controversy in international humanitarian law. These sad and unfortunate results raise interdisciplinary questions concerning both fact selection — determining what actually happened, or whose version of the facts are accepted — and rule selection — what was the legal relationship between Israel and the vessel Mavi Marmara. The overriding legal issues lay at the intersection of the international law of the sea and the law of naval warfare, which is a subset of international humanitarian law (IHL). Dissecting the legal elements of the raid is important for a better understanding of what happened — and how to prevent a reoccurrence.
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