Netanyahu: Gaza Flotilla Probe to Be Headed by Former Justice

Yaakov Tirkel is to head the Israeli investigative committee that will look into the IDF's takeover of Gaza-bound flotilla, which resulted in nine deaths.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Emil Salman

Former Supreme Court Justice Yaakov Tirkel is to head the Israeli investigative committee that will look into the events surrounding the takeover of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla nearly two weeks ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

Netanyahu added that he had personally updated U.S. President Barack Obama as to the move, as well as to the developing nature of the commission.

Also Sunday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak canceled a planned trip to a Paris arms show, over what his office described was his desire to be present in the discussion over the formation of the Gaza flotilla probe committee.

It is estimated that Barak wants to avoid a situation in which Netanyahu would fold in the face of international pressure and agree to make, what the defense minister would see as, unacceptable changes to the committee's charter.

Referring to the blockade on Gaza at the opening the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that discussions on the decision to blockade the Strip had taken place "even before the Gaza-bound flotilla."

"These discussions continued last week, inter alia, in the meetings I held on the subject with Quartet envoy Tony Blair," Netanyahu said, adding that the "principle guiding our policy is clear – to prevent the entry of war materiel from entering Gaza and to allow the entry of humanitarian aid and non-contraband goods into the Gaza Strip."

Netanyahu did not, however, announce the creation of a committee of inquiry into the naval commando raid on the Gaza Strip flotilla, and the matter will not be brought before the cabinet for a vote in Sunday's meeting.

The Prime Minister's Bureau said yesterday evening that the conditions have not matured for such an announcement "due to political reasons."

Talks have been held with the U.S. administration and several European countries to rally support for the mandate of the committee of inquiry and approval of its makeup. The Americans have rejected - a number of times - Israel's proposals and asked that a retired Supreme Court justice head the probe. The issue was resolved when Justice Yaakov Tirkel was proposed for the post.