The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) [official website] on Monday launched an internal investigation [press release] of the May 31 Israeli raid on several Turkish ships bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder]. Chief of the General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi [official profile] named Major General Giora Island to head an internal team of experts to investigate the flotilla operation. The team is made up of professionals outside of the chain of command of this specific operation. The investigatory unit will study the outcomes of the incident, "establish lessons," and present its findings by July 4. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [official website] and the nation's seven senior ministers also decided on Monday to establish a panel of jurists [Haaretz report] to investigate the attack. The panel's inquiry will be independent from the IDF investigation. To restore normal diplomatic ties [Hurriyet report] with Israel, the Turkish government has requested the establishment of an international inquiry, a public apology, and an end to the Gaza blockade.
Earlier this week, the Israeli ambassador to the US rejected [JURIST report] the idea of an international inquiry into the flotilla attack. The proposal, put forth by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website], would have established a panel composed of representatives from Israel, Turkey, and other unnamed countries. Netanyahu was reported to have expressed reservations [Haaretz report] regarding an international inquiry due to the precedent it would set. Last week, the UN Human Rights Council [official website] condemned [JURIST report] Israel's raid on the ships and initiated an independent investigation into possible violations of international law. Additionally, the UN Security Council [official website] called [JURIST report] for a "prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation" into the raid. The Turkish ship on which the violence occurred was one of six organized by the Free Gaza Movement [advocacy website] to carry protesters and humanitarian supplies to the isolated Palestinian enclave. The Gaza naval blockade began in 2007 after Hamas [CFR backgrounder] forcibly expelled their chief rival, Fatah [CFR backgrounder] from Gaza.