JERUSALEM – Israel agreed Monday to participate in a U.N. investigation of its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla last spring, a surprising departure from its traditional distrust of the world body.

Israel expressed confidence that the inquiry would find its actions justified. However, its decision to cooperate reflects the hit Israel’s world standing has taken in the wake of the assault and the spotlight it turned on its three-year Gaza blockade.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed hope that the panel would meet the Security Council’s call for a “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation” of the May 31 confrontation in which nine Turkish activists, including one with U.S. citizenship, died after being shot by Israeli commandos boarding their ship.

The four-member U.N. panel will be chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and co-chaired by outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and include a Turkish and an Israeli representative, Ban said. It will start work Aug. 10 and submit its first progress report by mid-September.

U.N. officials said their inquiry would not be a court-like tribunal. Instead, its mandate is to oversee the separate investigations now under way by Israel and Turkey and determine if they are credible.

Israel’s acceptance of a U.N. inquiry counters decades of suspicion of the world body because of its routine near-unanimous votes against the Jewish state in the General Assembly.

The last time Israel cooperated with a U.N. probe was in 2000, when the U.N. drew the boundary between Israel and Lebanon after Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon following its 18-year occupation.