News / Europe

Turkey Sets Up Commission to Probe Israel's Flotilla Raid

Turkey's government has set up a commission to investigate an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May in which Israeli commandos killed nine pro-Palestinian activists.

Officials said Thursday the commission will be under the authority of Turkey's prime minister and will present its findings to an international inquiry set up by the United Nations earlier this month.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky says the four-member U.N. panel met for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday. He says it held positive, substantive discussions and will strive to produce an interim report on the flotilla incident on September 15th.

Turkey has demanded Israel apologize for the May 31 raid on the six-ship flotilla, which included Turkish vessels seeking to break an Israeli naval blockade of Gaza to deliver aid to its Palestinian residents.

Israeli commandos boarded the vessels in international waters to enforce the blockade.

The commandos opened fire during a clash with Turkish activists on one of the ships, killing nine.

The raid drew widespread international criticism and led Israel to loosen restrictions on the passage of goods through its border crossings with Gaza. Israel says its blockade is designed to keep weapons and other supplies that could be used to attack Israel from reaching Gaza.

The Turkish commission will include officials from the Turkish ministries of foreign affairs, justice, interior and transportation.

Israel's government has set up two investigations into the flotilla incident, one led by the military and the other led by a civilian committee that includes two international representatives.

The U.N. panel is chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, co-chaired by former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and includes Israeli and Turkish representatives.

Israel has threatened to boycott the U.N. inquiry into the raid if it insists on questioning Israeli soldiers.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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