The Turkel Commission, charged with investigating into the flotilla affair of
May 31, is due to hold two days of intensive hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday,
with Tuesday’s hearing to include testimonies from two high-ranking officials in
the Interior Ministry and the Prisons Service.
Tuesday’s meeting will
begin with a memorial ceremony for Prof. Shabtai Rosenne, the international law
expert and committee member who died recently at the age of 92. The meeting will
be the first without Rosenne to be open to the public.
The committee has
decided not to replace him because it has already heard most of the key
testimony and because Rosenne left written material on international law
pertinent to the case of the Israel Navy’s seizure of the flotilla. Commission
spokesman Ofer Lefler added that if the commission requires further input on the
subject of international law, it will consult with outside
Lefler also said that in accordance with Israeli custom, Turkel
will be able to cast two votes in case of a deadlock among the remaining four
members of the commission.
After the memorial ceremony for Rosenne, the
commission will hear testimony from Interior Ministry Director of Enforcement
and Foreign Nationals Yossi Edelstein regarding the treatment of flotilla
participants from their arrival in Ashdod until their deportation.
in the day, it will hear testimony from Prisons Service head Benny Kaniak.
Kaniak will be asked about the Masada and Nahshon Prisons Service units, which
transported the flotilla passengers to jail and guarded them while they were
there, and the conditions in the Negev prison where they were held until their
On the following day, the committee will hear testimony from
three Israeli human rights organizations: Physicians for Human Rights, B’Tselem:
The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories and
Gisha: The Legal Center for Freedom of Movement.
They will testify about the
impact on the Palestinian civilian population of the Israeli-imposed closure of
the Gaza Strip from the Hamas takeover in June 2007 until the flotilla incident,
after which the closure was largely lifted.
In the afternoon, Muhammad
Zidan from Kafr Manda, in the Western Galilee, and Hamad Abu Dabus from Rahat, a
Beduin city in the Negev – both Israeli Arabs who were aboard the Mavi Marmara,
the Turkish vessel that led the flotilla – will testify before the commission.