Hamas slams findings of Gaza flotilla probe

Filed on January 23, 2011

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories - The militant Islamic Hamas group on Sunday dismissed as a “coverup” the finding of an Israeli investigation into the Gaza naval blockade and a fatal commando raid on a sanctions-busting aid flotilla.

Nine Turkish activists were killed by Israeli troops in fighting on the decks of the lead ship taking aid toward Gaza.

The Israeli commission, which included two international observers, declared earlier that neither the blockade itself nor the actions of the Israeli troops broke international law.

“It is a desperate attempt to justify the repeated failures of the Zionist army and to legitimize the crimes of the cover up this crime,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told AFP.

Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent arms and other supplies reaching Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and is locked into a deadly cross-border conflict with Israel.

Israel set up its own commission of inquiry into the May 2010 raid after rejecting international criticism that its troops had used excessive force and outside of international law.

“The naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip... was legal pursuant to the rules of international law,” the commission said in its report released Sunday.

“The actions carried out by Israel on May 31, 2010, to enforce the naval blockade had the regrettable consequences of the loss of human life and physical injuries,” the report said.

“Nonetheless... the actions taken were found to be legal pursuant to the rules of international law.”

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