Turkel panel to hear from Interior Ministry in hearing

Prisons Service testimony also coming up; meeting will begin with memorial for Prof. Shabtai Rosen.

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 experts.
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.
Later 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 deportation.
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.