Israeli ambassador to the US said his country will reject a proposed international commission to investigate its deadly raid on a Gaza aid flotilla.
Michael Oren (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk) told US broadcaster Fox News that Israel has the ability and the right to investigate its own military.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had earlier telephoned Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu with the proposal.
Nine people died when Israeli commandos stormed the Turkish ship last week.
“We are rejecting an international commission. We are discussing with the Obama administration a way in which our inquiry will take place,” Mr Oren told Fox News Sunday.
He added that Israel would not apologise for the incident. Eight of those killed were Turkish, and the ninth had joint US-Turkish nationality.
Mr Netanyahu was due to discuss Mr Ban’s proposal with senior cabinet ministers on Sunday.
The proposed commission would have included representatives from the US, Turkey and Israel and could have been headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer.
Yalcin Buyuk, the vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine, was quoted by Britain’s Guardian newspaper as saying that the nine men were shot a total of 30 times.
He spoke after autopsies on bodies of activists killed in Israel’s attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla indicate that the victims were shot multiple times at close range.
Based on preliminary autopsy reports, Buyuk told the newspaper that two men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back.
The autopsy revealed that Ibrahim Bilgen, a 60-year-old activist, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back.
Nineteen-year-old Furkan Dogan, a US citizen of Turkish descent, was shot five times from less that 45cm in the face, the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back.
Nine people were killed in Monday’s pre-dawn raid on the Freedom Flotilla, a convoy of ships carrying humanitarian aid, that was heading to Gaza in a bid to break Israel’s blockade of the territory.
According to Israeli military the marines, who boarded the ship in international waters, fired in self-defence after activists attacked them.
When asked why a 60-year-old and 19-year-old, amongst others, were shot multiple times at close range, Avital Leibovich, an Israeli military spokeswoman, told Al Jazeera: “We learnt the hard way that terrorists can be of a variety of ages or backgrounds.”
“They had one goal, they chose to confront us with knives and metal rods,” she said.
‘The injured died on the ship’
Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, who was travelling in the flotilla and witnessed the Israeli raid, confirmed that some passengers took apart some of the ship’s railings to defend themselves as they saw the Israeli soldiers approaching.
He said that he witnessed some of the killings, and confirmed that at least “one person was shot through the top of the head from [the helicopter] above.”
“After the shooting and the first deaths, people put up white flags and signs in English and Hebrew,” he said.
“An Israeli activist [on the ship] asked the soldiers to take away the injured, but they did not and the injured died on the ship.”
The deaths all tool place on the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara.
And it continues to draw widespread condemnation.
On Saturday, Turkish newspapers reported that the prosecutor’s office in Istanbul, in Turkey, had compiled enough evidence to press charges against Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, the defence mininster, and Gabi Ashkenazi, Israel’s chief of staff.
According to Today’s Zaman, the English-language daily, the charges would include murder, injury, attacking Turkish citizens on the open seas and piracy.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey, speaking during a televised speech said: “You [Israel] killed 19-year-old Furkan Dogan brutally. Which faith, which holy book can be an excuse for killing him?”
“I am speaking to them in their own language. The sixth commandment says “thou shalt not kill”. Did you not understand? I’ll say again. I say in English “you shall not kill”. Did you still not understand? So I’ll say to you in your own language. I say in Hebrew ‘Lo Tirtzakh’.”
Talking about Hamas, he said: “[They] are resistance fighters fighting for their land. They are Palestinians.
“They won an election and now they are in Israel’s prisons. I told this to the Americans, that I do not accept Hamas as a terrorist group.”
On Friday, Turkey’s ambassador to Washington, Namik Tan, also warned that his country could break all relations with Israel unless it apologises for the raid against Mavi Marmara, which carried a Turkish flag.
Tan also said that Turkey wanted a credible independent investigation into the events and for Israel to end its blockade of Gaza.
Still on Friday, three Turkish activists wounded in the raid arrived back home on a medical plane. Another two volunteers who were seriously wounded remain in an Israeli hospital, with a Turkish plane on stand-by to repatriate them, Recep Akdag, Turkey’s health minister said.
The US said that it would investigate the death of Dogan, the youngest killed in the attack, who had joint Turkish-US citizenship.
“We will look into the circumstances of the death of an American citizen, as we would do anywhere in the world at all times,” Philip Crowley, a state department spokesman, said.