Flotilla attack: Ex-SC judge to head Israeli probe panel

Israel today appointed an ex-SC judge to head a committee to examine events surrounding the bloody takeover of Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

Jerusalem: Amid mounting international
pressure, Israel today appointed a former Supreme Court judge
to head a committee to examine the events surrounding the
bloody takeover of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla two weeks ago
that led to the death of nine people.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today announced that
former Supreme Court Justice Yaakov Tirkel will head the
Israeli investigative committee that will look into the events
surrounding the takeover of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla that
left nine Turkish dead on May 31.

However, it falls short of meeting demands raised by
several countries that Israel inquire the deadly raid by Naval
commandos that left nine dead and several dozens wounded.

The PMO said yesterday that the conditions were not
yet ripe for such an announcement "due to political reasons",
Ha`aretz online reported. Netanyahu said he had personally
updated US President Barack Obama about his decision.

Referring to the siege on Gaza at the opening of the
weekly cabinet meeting today, the hawkish Israeli premier said
discussions on the decision to blockade the Strip had taken
place "even before the Gaza-bound flotilla."

"These discussions continued last week, inter alia, in
the meetings I held on the subject with Quartet envoy Tony
Blair," Netanyahu said.

He said the "principle guiding our policy is clear, to
prevent war material from entering Gaza and to allow the entry
of humanitarian aid and non-contraband goods into the Gaza

Defence Minister Ehud Barak today cancelled a planned
trip to a Paris arms show. His office described the decision
to cancel his France visit as part of his desire to be present
in the discussion over the formation of the Gaza flotilla
probe committee.

It is being speculated that Barak wants to avoid a
situation in which Netanyahu would give in to international
pressure and agree to make "unacceptable changes to the
committee`s charter".

Israeli authorities have held talks with the
US administration and several European countries to rally
support for the mandate of the committee of inquiry and
approval of its makeup.

The Americans are said to have rejected Israel`s
proposals a number of times and demanded that a retired
Supreme Court justice head the probe. The issue was resolved
when Justice Tirkel was proposed for the post.

Israel Defence Forces are holding a separate inquiry
into the incident that triggered world-wide condemnation of
the bloody commando operation.


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