Israel to conduct own investigation into flotilla


Israel said today it would carry out its own investigation into last week's deadly raid on a Gaza aid flotilla, after turning down a UN proposal for an international inquiry.

Speaking in parliament in response to a no-confidence motion introduced by opposition parties over the May 31st raid, minister for defence Ehud Barak said Israel would examine ways to minimise friction in enforcing its blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Israeli troops shot dead nine Turks during the raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla. They say they were responding in self-defence to protesters wielding knives and clubs.

Israel turned down yesterday a proposal by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon for an international investigation headed by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer and including Turkish, Israeli and US representatives.

"We intend to achieve an investigation of the events," Mr Barak said, without giving details about the format of the inquiry.

Mr Barak said the inquiry would be in addition to a separate military investigation, and that it would seek to establish whether Israel's four-year blockade of Gaza and its raid "met with the standards of international law".

"We will draw lessons at the political level, (and) in the security establishment," Mr Barak said.

"Since the event we have heard and read mountains of talk and questions and without a doubt in the coming months we shall discuss lessons ... perhaps additional ways to achieve the same goals of the blockade, by reducing as far as possible the potential for friction," he added.