Observers of Gaza Flotilla Probe Arrive in Israel for Opening Panel Session

Ireland's Lord David Trimble and Canada's Ken Watkin will monitor inquiry into IDF raid on Gaza-bound flotilla.

The two international observers who will be monitoring the proceedings of the committee charged with investigating Israel's deadly May 31 raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla arrived in Israel on Sunday, ahead of Monday's opening session in Jerusalem.

Lord David Trimble from Northern Ireland and Ken Watkin, Canada's former judge advocate general, met yesterday with retired Supreme Court justice Jacob Turkel, who is heading the committee.

The observers will meet with all three committee members on Monday - Turkel, Shabtai Rosenne, a professor of international law, and Maj. Gen. (Res. ) Amos Horev - to create panel guidelines and a schedule for hearing witness testimony, and determine the extent to which the observers will be participating in the hearings.

Gaza flotilla probe

Most of the committee hearings will be open to the public and the media, though there will also be some closed meetings at which the panel will hear sensitive information that could affect Israel's security or its foreign affairs.

The committee has a media consultant, Ofer Lefler, who is expected in the coming weeks to release the timetable for the open hearings. Hoshea Gottlieb, a lawyer who has served as a consultant to justice ministers Daniel Friedmann and Yaakov Neeman, will be coordinating the committee's work.

The Turkel committee was appointed by the cabinet earlier this month to investigate the naval raid, which resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists aboard the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, and its adherence to international law. The committee will also examine the security-related reasons for Israel's imposition of a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, which the flotilla was launched to protest, and the conduct of Turkey and the organizers of the flotilla.