UN Palestinian expert 'skeptical' of Israeli probe
The UN expert for the Palestinian territories said he was skeptical of the internal probe the Israeli government approved Monday into its raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that left nine dead.
Richard Falk told journalists he is "rather skeptical" of the Israeli probe "given the kind of statements that the political leadership of Israel has made about not subjecting the Israeli military participants in the naval operation to any kind of questioning."
Given the public defence of the operation by Israeli leaders and "some rather unreliable" presentation of the facts about the operation "...makes one wonder on to the credibility of such an investigation."
Falk said "it makes a great deal more sense to try to assess what happened on a basis of a detached, external investigation" that would not feel any pressure from Israeli officials.
Israel's government approved establishing a committee which will include two foreign observers to look into the legal aspects of the May 31 operation in which Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists.
Ankara swiftly dismissed the move, saying that Israel was incapable of being "impartial," and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas said setting up an internal committee did not comply with UN demands.
The UN Security Council on June 1 condemned the Israeli attack and called for a "prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards."
Falk said Israel's own probes into its 2008-2009 assault on Gaza did not inspire confidence as the biggest violation found was "that an Israeli soldier had stolen a credit card" from a Palestinian.
A UN report published in September 2009 accused both sides of war crimes during the offensive which Israel launched in a bid to halt rocket attacks by Gaza militants. Some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.
"None of the serious allegations involving tactics and weapons and the attack itself were subjected to any sort of objective analysis," said Falk.
The Israeli media said at the start of February that the army had reprimanded two senior officers for the firing of shells, which contained white phosphorus, in a populated area near a UN compound during the Gaza war.
© 2010 AFP