06/14/2010, 00.00
ISRAEL
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Netanyahu sets up an Israeli commission to shed light on incident on Gaza-bound aid ship

The five men panel includes two non-Israeli members who will not vote on inquiry findings. The Red Cross condemns what it describes a violation of international humanitarian law. Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa meets Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, says blockade must end.
Tel Aviv (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the creation of a commission of inquiry into the death of nine Turks aboard the Mavi Marmara on 31 May after a raid by the Israeli Navy against the Gaza flotilla. Israel claims that its troops were forced to shoot when activists attacked them with knives and iron bars. Activists claim Israeli soldiers fired at them without provocation.

A number of countries and the United Nations want an independent and internal inquiry. Israel has opted for its own probe by a panel that includes three Israelis and two foreigners. The Israeli members include Major General (res) Amos Horev, Shabtai Rosen, a professor of international law, and Jacob Turkel, a retired Supreme Court justice.  The foreign members are 1998 Nobel Peace Prize laureate David Trimble from Ireland and Ken Watkin, a retired Canadian jurist.

The 31 May incident has generated a huge controversy regarding the Gaza blockade. The usually neutral International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) came out against Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian territory, calling it a clear violation of international humanitarian law. “The whole of Gaza's civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility,” the ICRC said in a statement.

In an historic meeting with Hamas leader Ismail Haniya in the Gaza Strip Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said that the blockade must end and that the Arab League’s position on the matter was clear.

Israel sealed all passes to the Gaza Strip in 2007 when Hamas took complete control of the Palestinian territory.

The Israelis allow humanitarian aid into the territory but they have justified the policy of tight controls because Gaza in their view has become a nest of terrorists and a base for rocket attacks against its territory.

According to Human Rights Watch, Israel is causing a “humanitarian disaster”, denying 1.4 million Palestinians food, fuel and drugs necessary for their survival.

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