US Supports International Hand in Israeli Investigation Into Flotilla Violence

ABC News' Kirit Radia reports:

The Obama administration today expressed support for an international role in an Israeli investigation into violence aboard aid ships aiming to break through an Israeli blockade of Gaza that resulted in the deaths of nine civilians, calling for the probe to be “prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent.” “We support an Israeli investigation that meets those criteria. We are open to different ways of assuring a credible investigation, including international participation, and we will continue to discuss these ideas with the Israelis and our international partners in the days ahead,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters. The administration’s position is a slight shift from just earlier in the day when it supported only an Israeli probe into the violence, an apparent recognition of concerns over whether Israel could be expected to conduct an unbiased review of its own actions.

Early Monday morning Israeli commandos boarded six ships organized by international activists to deliver aid to Gaza. Violence broke out on board the largest ship, though exactly who struck first remains unclear. The groups on board say Israeli troops attacked them, while Israel says its forces acted in self defense after extremists on board set upon the troops with knives and crowbars.

But even after the shift the administration struggled to explain how Israel could be expected to conduct an unbiased review of the events when they were a party to the conflict and have already defended their actions.

“These were Israeli forces that carried out this action. And we think that means that they're in the best position to investigate whether -- what the instructions were given to those forces, how they viewed the situation as they approached the flotilla, and what transpired onboard that ship,” State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said finally, after dodging repeated questions on the matter at a briefing later in the day.

Crowley said it was too soon to say if US investigators could be deployed to help in the probe.

- Kirit Radia

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