Israel’s Cabinet unanimously backed the creation of an “independent public commission” today to investigate the Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla that left nine dead and many wounded on May 31. “I estimate that the Cabinet’s decision this morning to establish a special, independent public commission will make it clear to the entire world that the State of Israel acts according to law, transparently, and with full responsibility,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
The committee, which will be headed by retired Supreme Court judge Jacob Terkel, will conduct an internal investigation into the legal aspects of the flotilla raid. Aside from the judge, the committee includes two Israeli members: Amos Horev, who served as president of the Technion, and Shabtai Rosen, a professor of international law; as well as two international members: William David Trimble, the first minister of Northern Ireland, and Ken Watkin, former judge advocate general of the Canadian military.
But Ankara slammed the probe, saying they cannot trust that Israel’s investigation will be impartial. Turkey wants the circumstances surrounding the May 31 attack to be investigated by a commission “under the direct control of the United Nations.” Unsurprisingly, Hamas has chimed in, saying that Israel’s continuing refusal to accept an international probe proves its guilt.
However, the demand for an international probe is just another attempt to de-legitimize Israel’s right to self-defense. As the Goldstone Report proved, international probes commissioned by the UN – especially when involving Israel – aren’t always impartial. It would be difficult to imagine the United States subjecting itself to an international probe into its actions in Iraq or Afghanistan, which are self-defense measures. Why, then, should Israel?