Turkey to conduct investigation into Israeli flotilla raid

The Turkish Foreign Ministry announced Aug. 11 that it will conduct an investigation into the May flotilla incident, in which Israeli forces raided several Turkish ships bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip. The investigatory commission will operate under the office of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and will prepare a report to be presented to the UN panel established earlier this month to investigate the incident.

The Turkish commission includes officials from the Foreign Ministry and the ministries of Justice, Interior and Transportation. The commission’s findings are expected to be presented to the UN panel before it submits its first report, expected in September. The commission will join another set up by the Turkish government shortly following the flotilla incident. The earlier commission was set up to investigate criminal charges against Israeli leaders involved in the incident, such as murder and piracy. On Aug. 10, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu urged the Israeli government to admit sole responsibility for the incident. Israeli actions are also being investigated by another UN panel established by the UN Human Right Council (UNHRC), with which Israel is not expected to cooperate.

The Israeli government has established two internal commissions to investigate its response to the flotilla, one military and one civilian. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu testified before the civilian commission Aug. 9 that Israel did not violate international law. During his testimony, Netanyahu expressed confidence that the commission would find Israeli actions to be in compliance with international law and explained the Israeli response to the flotilla in the context of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Netanyahu continued to accuse Hamas of “at least four war crimes: inciting to genocide; systematically and intentionally firing on civilians; using civilians as human shields; and preventing visits by the Red Cross to kidnapped IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit.” Earlier this month, an Israeli military probe found insufficient intelligence and planning in the raid in a report, but also concluded that no punishments were necessary. Israeli forces raided six ships attempting to deliver more than 10,000 tons of aid to Gaza in May. The raid left numerous wounded and resulted in the deaths of nine pro-Palestine activists—eight Turks and one American.

From Jurist, Aug. 12. Used with permission.

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  1. Israel threatens to quit UN flotilla investigation
    After agreeing for the first time last week to cooperate with the UN investigation into the flotilla incident, Israel reiterated Aug. 10 that it would cease cooperation if its soldiers are questioned. “We said very clearly, ‘Israel will not cooperate with or participate in any panel that demands to investigate IDF personnel’,” Mark Regev told Xinhua. The statement came in response to a statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon denying there was any behind-the-scenes agreement shielding Israeli soldiers or officers involved in the operation from questioning. (Xinhua, Aug. 10)

  2. Israeli soldier charged in flotilla incident
    The Israeli military announced charges against a soldier for looting the lead ship in the Gaza aid flotilla incident in May. The soldier is accused of stealing equipment from the ship Mavi Marmara after it was towed to an Israeli port. The statement said the soldier’s actions “directly contradict the Israeli military’s moral standards.” (Canadian Press, Sept. 3)