Former justice to head Israel’s flotilla inquiry


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A former Israeli Supreme Court justice will head Israel’s investigative committee examining the interception of a Gaza-bound flotilla, in which nine passengers were killed.

Yaakov Tirkel will head the probe, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday, according to reports.

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The committee has not officially been announced, as Israel continues to hold talks with the Obama administration and several European countries in order to ensure that there is approval for the inquiry’s scope and the committee’s makeup, Haaretz reported.

The United States reportedly had requested that a retired Israeli Supreme Court justice head the inquiry.

Netanyahu discussed the Gaza blockade Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

“Before the flotilla set sail for Gaza, we discussed – in various forums – the continuation of our policy toward the Gaza Strip,” he said. “These discussions continued last week, inter alia, in the meetings I held on the subject with Quartet envoy Tony Blair. 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. The aforesaid discussions, which will continue this week, are designed to ensure that this principle is effectively applied.”

Also Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak canceled a trip to Paris in order to participate in the discussion over the makeup of the investigative committee, Haaretz reported, citing Barak’s office.