By Jonathan Hoffman
January 23, 2011
The 300-page Report in full:
• The conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip is an international
• Israel’s ‘effective control’ of the Gaza Strip ended when the
disengagement was completed.
• The purpose of the naval blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip
was primarily a military-security one.
• The naval blockade was imposed on the Gaza Strip lawfully, with
Israel complying with the conditions for imposing it.
• Israel is complying with the humanitarian obligations imposed on the
blockading party, including the prohibition of starving the civilian
population or preventing the supply of objects essential for the survival
of the civilian population and medical supplies, and the requirement
that the damage to the civilian population is not excessive in relation
to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the
• The imposition and enforcement of the naval blockade on the Gaza
Strip does not constitute ‘collective punishment’ of the population of
the Gaza Strip.
• International law does not give individuals or groups the freedom to
ignore the imposition of a naval blockade that satisfies the conditions
for imposing it and that is enforced accordingly, especially where a
blockade satisfies obligations to neutral parties, merely because in the
opinion of those individuals or groups it violates the duties of the party
imposing the blockade vis-à-vis the entity subject to the blockade.
• A vessel that attempts to breach a blockade is subject to international
law governing the conduct of hostilities: international humanitarian
law, including the rules governing use of force.
• The Israeli armed forces' interception and capture of the Gaza Flotilla
vessels in international waters - seaward of the blockaded area - was in
conformity with customary international humanitarian law.
• The tactics chosen to intercept and capture the Flotilla vessels
-including having Shayetet 13 naval commandoes board from Morena
speedboats and fast-rope from helicopter onto the roof of the vessels -
was consistent with established international naval practice.
• The participants in the Flotilla were predominantly an international
group of civilians whose main goal was to bring publicity to the
humanitarian situation in Gaza by attempting to breach the blockade
imposed by Israel.
• On board the Mavi Marmara and the other flotilla vessels was a group
of IHH and affiliated activists (the “IHH activists”) that violently
opposed the Israeli boarding. The IHH activists who participated in
that violence were civilians taking a direct part in hostilities.
• The force used against civilians on board the flotilla was governed by
the principles of "necessity" and use of "proportionate force" associated
with human rights based law enforcement norms. However, the IHH
activists lost the protection of their civilian status for such time as they
directly participated in the hostilities. The use of force against these
direct participants in hostilities is governed by the applicable rules of
international humanitarian law.
• The Rules of Engagement for the operation provided an authority to
use force that reflected the nature of a law enforcement operation.
• The IHH activists carried out the violence on board the Mavi Marmara by
arming themselves with a wide array of weapons, including iron bars,
axes, clubs, slingshots, knives, and metal objects. These were weapons
capable of causing death or serious injury. Further, the hostilities
were conducted in an organized manner with IHH activists, inter alia,
operating in groups when violently assaulting the IDF soldiers.
• The IHH activists used firearms against the IDF soldiers during the
• The Commission has examined 133 incidents in which force was used.
The majority of the uses of force involved warning or deterring fire
and less-lethal weapons.
• Overall, the IDF personnel acted professionally in the face of extensive
and unanticipated violence. This included continuing to switch back
and forth between less-lethal and lethal weapons in order to address
the nature of the violence directed at them.
• The Commission has concluded that in 127 cases, the use of force
appeared to be in conformity with international law.
• In six cases, the Commission has concluded that it has insufficient
information to be able to make a determination.
• Three out of those six cases involved the use of live fire and three cases
involved physical force; two incidents of kicking and one strike with
the butt of a gun.
• In five out of the 127 incidents that appeared to be in conformity
with international law, there was insufficient evidence to conclude
that the use of force was also in accordance with law enforcement
norms. However, in these cases, force appeared to be used against
persons taking a direct part in hostilities and, as a consequence, was in
conformity with international law.
• The planning and organization of the IDF mission to enforce the blockade
did not include anticipation that there would be a violent opposition
to the boarding, which had a direct impact on the operational tactics,
Rules of Engagement, and training before the operation. However,
the focus of the planning and organization of the operation on a lower
level of resistance did not lead to a breach of international law.