UN panel denounces flotilla raid

Legal experts condemn "totally unnecessary and incredible violence", Israel says report is "politici

A panel of UN international experts has written that the "totally unnecessary and incredible violence" that took place during Israel's interception of the Freedom Gaza flotilla "cannot be justified or condoned on security or any other grounds".

UN war crimes prosecutor Desmond de Silva, Trinidadian judge Karl Hudson-Phillips, and Malaysian women's rights advocate Mary Shanthi Dairiam accuse Israeli of violating the rights of the crews and failing deal with captured crews humanely. Their report effectively forms the case for the prosecution.

Their report, due for formal submission to the UN rights council on 27 September, recognises Israel's rights to security and protection from Hamas rocket attacks, but states that the blockad of Gaza is a form of collective punishment against the Palestinian population there, which is forbidden under the Geneva Convention.

Israel, which from the outset has said it will not co-operate with the UN probe, was quick to dismiss the panel's accusations as "politicised and extremist". Israel is conducting its own enquiry.