A former president of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is to head the UN Human Rights Council’s probe into Israel’s deadly attack on a Gaza-bound aid convoy.
Renowned ICC judge and the Hague-based court’s first president Philippe Kirsch of Canada has been involved in international investigations of war crimes and maritime terrorism in the past.
The investigation committee will begin its work on Tuesday after its full membership is announced.
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) decided to set up the committee two days after Israeli navy commandos attacked the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on May 31.
Israel made extensive efforts to avoid a similar disgrace following revelations about the 2009 Gaza war, and to convince the international community to agree to an internal Israeli investigation which included no more than two foreign observers with limited powers.
The US, Israel’s traditional guardian and its closet ally, has been opposed to an international probe and welcomed the formation of an internal inquiry by Israeli authorities.
A report by the UNHRC’s Gaza war commission headed by South African justice Richard Goldstone charged Israel with war crimes and crimes against humanity over deliberate targeting of civilians and using Palestinians as human shields among other things.
International condemnations against Israel’s military approach, however, culminated once again over the deaths of nine Turkish civilians onboard the Gaza-bound aid fleet.
The incident also promoted Turkey to withdraw its ambassador to Tel Aviv and canceled joint military drills with Israel.
Turkey has also demanded a formal apology and compensation for the families of the victims, warning Israel’s refusal to fulfill the demands would lead to an end to Ankara -Tel Aviv ties.