UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] on Monday announced the composition [statement] of an international panel to investigate the May flotilla incident [JURIST news archive], in which Israeli forces raided several Turkish ships bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder]. The panel will consist of four members, including former New Zealand premier Geoffrey Palmer [official profile], outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe [BBC profile] and two other members, one appointed by Israel and the other by Turkey. Ban described the panel as "unprecedented," and stated his hope that the "agreement will impact positively on the relationship between Turkey and Israel as well as the overall situation in the Middle East." The panel has a mandate to recommend ways to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. The panel will begin its work on August 10 and submit a progress report by September. Also on Monday, the Israeli government announced that it will cooperate with the panel [AP report]. The announcement comes a week after the Israeli government indicated that it will not participate [JURIST report] with another investigation into the incident conducted by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website], which it characterized as biased.
The UNHRC on Friday called on Israel to cooperate [JURIST report] with an international inquiry into the flotilla incident. Earlier this month, an Israeli military probe found insufficient intelligence and planning [JURIST report] in the raid in a report, but also concluded that no punishments were necessary. The report also pointed out the operation relied "excessively on a single course of action ... while no alternative courses of action were prepared for the event of more dangerous scenarios." It went on to commend the actions of the soldiers and their commanders, who exhibited "correct decision making" and justifiably resorted to the use of their firearms. Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [official website; BBC profile] established a separate panel of jurists [JURIST report] to investigate the attack independently from the military investigation. The panel has not yet completed its investigation. Israeli forces raided six ships attempting to deliver more than 10,000 tons of aid to Gaza in May. The raid left numerous wounded and resulted in the deaths of nine pro-Palestine activists - eight Turks and one American.