Martin: Israeli inquiry into flotilla raid ‘will not suffice’

AN internal Israeli investigation into the state’s deadly raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla “will not suffice”, Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin has said.

He reiterated his call for a transparent international inquiry in order to “establish precisely what happened and ensure there is full accountability”.

“We also need to ensure that a clear red line is established between what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable actions within the international community and to reinforce basic respect for the principles of international law,” he told the Oireachtas European Affairs Committee yesterday.

“An internal Israeli investigation alone will not suffice since it is quite clear that it would not command the necessary confidence on the part of the international community.”

The need for an international inquiry will be discussed at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday.

Mr Martin said ministers would also discuss the issue of ending Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

“I genuinely feel that, if it is possible for there to be any bright side to what transpired last week, it is that there is now significantly increased international pressure to lift the blockade.”

The minister said he fully understood the security concerns of Israel, which has been the target of repeated missile and mortar attacks from Hamas militants based in Gaza.

But he said the blockade of Gaza was counterproductive, as it was victimising innocent civilians and thereby increasing anger and bitterness towards Israel.

The “absurdity” of the situation was evident in the tunnel network used by Hamas to smuggle supplies into Gaza, he said.

While UN operations could not get concrete for legitimate projects in Gaza because of the blockade, Hamas was able to smuggle in concrete for whatever purposes it liked, he said.

“Our view is that the blockade does nothing to improve the security of Israel. It’s counterproductive… It’s hardening attitudes in Gaza.”

Separately, Mr Martin said he would decide shortly what action to take over the use of forged Irish passports in the assassination of Hamas chief Mahmoud al Mabhouh in Dubai last January.

It is expected he will recommend to Cabinet that an Israeli embassy official be expelled from Ireland. The assassination has been blamed on the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad.

“It remains my intention to very shortly propose to the Government the action I believe appropriate in this case,” Mr Martin said.

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