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Rights group seeks information on US knowledge of Israel flotilla raid

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy website] on Thursday filed [press release] eight Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [materials] requests seeking information relating to the US government's knowledge of the May Israeli raid on several Turkish ships bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder]. Several governmental departments received the requests, including the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official websites]. CCR is specifically seeking access to any communication between the US and Israeli governments that occurred before or after the attack. They are also trying to determine if the US government shared information about US citizens living abroad and what is being done to ensure the return of citizens who have been detained while abroad. A spokesperson for CCR cited the importance of the information the group is requesting, stating:

Serious questions remain unanswered about the US response to the attack, its actions and policies, particularly in the context of the blockade of Gaza, internationally condemned as illegal and unjust. Citizens need to know their government will protect their rights under US and international law vis-a-vis a foreign government, including Israel—the biggest recipient of US aid over the last fifty years.
CCR is also requesting access to information surrounding US policy toward the ongoing Gaza blockade, which has been described by UN officials as "collective punishment" [JURIST report].

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [official website; BBC profile] indicated earlier this week that he would consider widening the scope of an internal probe [JURIST reports] into the flotilla raid, giving investigators the power to subpoena witnesses. The panel has been asked to investigate the events that took place in the early hours of May 31, when Israeli forces raided six ships attempting to deliver more than 10,000 tons of aid to the Palestinian territory of Gaza. The raid left numerous wounded and resulted in the shooting deaths of nine pro-Palestine activists: eight Turks and one American. Earlier this month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] reiterated the importance of an international component [JURIST report] in the investigation into the raid. 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]. 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.

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