Flotilla Committee 311.
(photo credit: Moshe Milner)
Since the Netanyahu government on Monday approved the formation of the Gaza
flotilla investigative committee, critics have attacked the decision from right
Those who see no wrong in the raid on the Mavi Marmara
instantly criticized the decision to hold the committee at all.
of the raid, meanwhile, claimed that the probe would be ineffectual, based on
the perceived standing of the Israeli judges and suggestions that the two
foreign observers would not be sufficiently critical of the State of Israel’s
conduct in the May 31 raid that left nine Turkish citizens dead.
has focused on the average age of the three Israeli jurists, which is 85.
Pundits have noted that the panel was in its prime 30 or more years ago. In
fact, committee member and 86-year-old retired IDF Major General Amos Horev
headed the 1974 investigative committee that probed the terrorist attack earlier
that year on a schoolhouse in Ma'alot, in which 26 Israelis, including 22
schoolchildren, were shot dead by terrorists from the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine.
Thirty-six years later, Horev finds himself
again part of an investigative committee, along with 93-year-old international
law expert Shabtai Rozen, and head of the “Terkel Commission” former Supreme
Court Justice Jacob Terkel, considered the “youngster” of the group at the
sprightly age of 75.
After factoring in the ages of the international
observers, 56 year old former Canadian Forces JAG Ken Watkin and Nobel Peace
Prize laureate 65- year-old William David Trimble, the committee is only, on
Nonetheless, the foreign participants are meant to
be observers, and will not have much responsibility for probing the
Spokesman for the Prime Minister’s office Mark Regev on
Wednesday, categorically dismissed contentions that the advanced age of the
Israeli jurists could impact their ability to probe the Gaza Flotilla affair
properly, saying “they were picked for their experience, their professional
expertise and their integrity. No one that actually knows them says that they
are not capable of doing their job because of their age.”
Regev added “no
one has said he [93-year-old Rosen] can’t do the job, rather they seem to be
implying that they can’t do the job because of their age.”
When asked if
the three were chosen specifically because their advanced age may hamper their
ability to work with vigilance, speed, and ardent determination, thus weakening
the commission of inquiry, Regev said, “this is the first time I’ve heard such
theories. On the contrary, this is being taken very seriously.”
A look at
earlier investigative panels shows that many featured significantly younger
jurors. The members of the 2000 Orr Commission, which probed the response of
police to the October 2000 riots in the Arab sectors had an average age of 64,
led by 66-year-old Theodore Or.
The 5 members of the 1973 Agranot
commission, which examined the failures that led to initial Israeli losses in
the Yom Kippur War, had an average age of 60, a quarter century younger than
those who will probe the raid on the Mavi Marmara.
That said, critics
have pointed to the elderly makeup of the 2006 Winograd Commission,
examined the failures of the Second Lebanon War. That body of inquiry
was led by
80- year-old former Supreme Court justice Eliyahu Winograd and had an
72, which, while it was significantly younger overall than the Terkel
Commission, still was older on average than the Israeli pension age.
of how old the jurists are, Israelis can rest assured the Terkel probe
result in a “Goldstone 2”, a report based solely on the testimony of
bodies and NGOs not altogether sympathetic to the security concerns of
state. Furthermore, the committee’s instructions not to interview
soldiers or their officers could mean that an interpretation of events
based solely on the official IDF narrative, a narrative that will also
unlikely to take into account the testimony of foreign citizens on board
A critique of the age of the committee members is
important, even in a country with an 87 year old president, but will
overshadow the parameters under which the probe will be managed,
would have a marked effect on the committee regardless of the age of its