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UN SG urges international oversight in Israel flotilla investigaton

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] on Tuesday reiterated the importance of an international component [press briefing text] in the investigation into the May 31 Israeli raid on several Turkish ships bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder]. Ban's original proposal to establish an investigatory panel comprised of representatives from Israel, Turkey, and other unnamed countries, was rejected by Israeli officials [JURIST report] earlier this week. In a UN daily press briefing, associate spokesman Farhan Haq said Ban wants to emphasize that "credible international involvement is crucial to a prompt, credible, impartial and transparent investigation" and that he "understands that Israel is still considering how and if to bring an international element into the investigative process." The UN has not yet received an official response from Israel regarding the implementation of an international investigation.

Israeli officials have insisted that Israel has the ability and the right to resolve matters through an internal investigation, and does not require international oversight. Earlier this week, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) [official website] launched an internal investigation [JURIST report] into the flotilla attack. 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 last week 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 with Israel, the Turkish government has requested the establishment of an international inquiry, a public apology, and an end to the Gaza blockade. The Turkish flotilla 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.

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