Ethics or politics? : the Palmer Commission report on the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident
Investigating operational incidents in a military context : law, justice, politics
Leiden ; Boston : Brill Nijhoff, 2015
This chapter examines in detail the report of one of the investigations launched into the "Gaza flotilla incident": the investigation established by the UN-Secretary General and widely known as the Palmer Commission. In May 2010, the MV Marmara and a number of other vessels seeking to break the blockade of Gaza were boarded by Israeli soldiers, leading to the death of nine persons. This incident led to the creation of a number of investigations, each resulting in quite different conclusions about whether and how Israel had contravened international law. The author is concerned to test two of the key findings of the Palmer Commission Report against the requirement of jus in bello norms. While the Commission concluded that the blockade of Gaza was legal, it found that Israeli action in boarding the vessels was "excessive and unreasonable", and that the loss of life was "unacceptable". The author argues that the Commission's own arguments do not support these findings, and he strongly suggests that they were motivated more by political, than by legal or ethical, considerations.