Clinton Urges Israel to Make 'Credible' Investigation into Flotilla Deaths

White House suggests Israel may want international help in probe.

ByABC News
June 1, 2010, 10:06 AM

JERUSALEM June 1, 2010— -- The Obama administration said today it supports an Israeli investigation into the violence on board a ship carrying aid to Gaza that left nine people dead, but urged it be "prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the probe could include international participation to ensure its credibility.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs echoed Clinton, telling a news conference, "We are open to ways to assure a credible investigation, including international participation."

The measured but firm language came a day after a bloody confrontation in which Israeli commandos rappelled onto six ships carrying activists and supplies tried to break Israel's isolation of the embattled Gaza enclave.

The incident triggered fierce international outrage. Egypt, which enforces the blockade along its border, essentially broke with Israel today and temporarily opened its main crossing into Gaza.

And the organizers of the Freedom Flotilla announced today that two more ships would be sent to challenge Israel's stranglehold around Gaza.

Israel said 37 activists who were aboard the ships were hospitalized, including four who were in serious condition. Many of the activists, including at least four of the dead, were from Turkey.

Clinton today held a pre-scheduled meeting with the Turkish foreign minister that lasted over twice as long as expected. The minister ignored questions from reporters after the meeting, but said earlier in the day Turkey wanted the U.S. to issue a stronger condemnation of the attack.

At a press conference later in the day Clinton made no such condemnation, but urged both sides to be careful not to further enflame tensions.

"We support in the strongest terms the Security Council's call for a prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent investigation... We are open to different ways of assuring a credible investigation, including international participation," she said.

Clinton in her statements added, "The situation in Gaza is unsustainable and unacceptable. Israel's legitimate security needs must be met just as the Palestinians' legitimate needs for sustained humanitarian assistance and regular access for reconstruction materials must also be assured."