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Israel Rejects UN Council Flotilla Investigation

U.N. officials say the Israeli government is blocking them from speaking to Israeli soldiers about the country's raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

In a statement to the Associated Press Tuesday, a U.N. Human Rights Council investigator said the three-person panel will need to question Israeli soldiers in investigating the May 31 attack that killed nine pro-Palestinian activists.

But the investigators from Britain, Trinidad and Malaysia have been refused entry by Israel, which rejects the mission as biased. Israel says it will not comment on the probe.

The panel began a two-week visit to Turkey and Jordan Monday in order to question witnesses and government officials about the attack.

The council's inquiry is separate from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's own panel on the incident, which is expected to produce an interim report by mid-September.

The council said a team arrived in Turkey, under whose flag the vessel was registered, after hearing other witnesses in London and Geneva. The mission will head to Jordan on August 29.

Israeli commandos killed nine pro-Palestinian activists during the raid, eight from Turkey and a Turkish-American. Israel says its forces acted in self-defense but the action drew wide condemnation.

Israel is conducting its own investigations into the flotilla incident, one by the military and one by an independent panel. Turkey has also launched a probe.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.