Israel rules out external inquiry into flotilla attack

Israel today rejected calls from the United Nations and others for an international investigation of its deadly raid on the Gaza aid flotilla.

Israel today rejected calls from the United Nations and others for an international investigation of its deadly raid on the Gaza aid flotilla.

Its says its commandos used force only after activists on board the Turkish flagship attacked them. Nine of the activists were killed.

Israel’s military already is investigating the raid.

The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there was “no case in recent history” where a democratic country’s army involved in the deaths of civilians in an overseas operation has been subjected to an international investigation.

Officials have insisted Israel's military already is investigating the raid and the country is capable of conducting a credible review.

“It is our standard practice after military operations, especially operations in which there have been fatalities, to conduct a prompt, professional, transparent and objective investigation in accordance with the highest international standards,” said a government spokesman.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, however, proposed attaching international observers to an internal Israeli probe.

He has proposed setting up a commission of inquiry, headed by a respected former Israeli Supreme Court judge. “If they’ll ask to include foreign observers, we’ll include them,” he said.

Junior Cabinet member Binyamin Ben-Eliezer went further saying: “An international commission of inquiry must be established because we have nothing to hide.

Israel has refused to cooperate with previous international probes, most recently the UN investigation into Israel’s 2009 war in the Gaza Strip that concluded that both the Israelis and Hamas militants, who control Gaza, committed war crimes.

But the wave of international outrage over the deaths on board the flotilla’s lead ship, the Mavi Marmara, has provoked multiple demands for an international probe.

The activists on the flotilla want to end Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, imposed after the militant Hamas group violently seized power in the territory three years ago. Israel says the blockade is meant to keep weapons out of Gaza and to put pressure on its Hamas rulers to moderate. But weapons and other goods continue to reach Gaza through underground tunnels with Egypt and Gazans blame Israel, not Hamas, for their hardship.

The activists already have another small Gaza-bound ship in the Mediterranean, which expects to arrive in the region early next week, and say they are organising a new flotilla of at least three aid ships to try to breach the blockade later this year.

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