Terkel parley may summon army officers

Netanyahu has decided to widen the panel’s authority.

July 1, 2010 05:58
1 minute read.
Marmara passengers prepare for IDF raid

mavi marmara passengers 311. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)

A day after the government decided to expand the Terkel Commission’s prerogatives and powers, defense officials expressed concern on Wednesday that now all IDF officers involved in the Mavi Marmara operation could be called to testify before the panel.

Initially, the Independent Public Commission to Examine the Maritime Incident of 31.5.2010, which is headed by retired Supreme Court justice Ya’acov Terkel, was reported to only be allowed to summon IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi but not IDF soldiers or other officers.

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Government sources, though, said Wednesday that following Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to widen the panel’s authority, it would now be allowed to summon additional officers. Possible candidates for testimony are OC Navy V.-Adm. Eli Marom as well as officers who serve in the Military Advocate General’s International Department under Maj.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit.

“There is no reason to summon a navy commando,” one source said. “But the panel will be interested in hearing what the legal justifications were for the operation.”

The commission currently has three members, Terkel, international law expert Prof. Shabtai Rosenne and security expert Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Horev. In addition, two international representatives, Lord David Trimble of Ireland and Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Ken Watkin of Canada, were appointed to observe the proceedings.

The panel held its first public meeting on Monday. Terkel, who gave an introductory speech, made no mention of the changes in the structure and powers of the commission that he is allegedly insisting upon.

In contrast to previous state panels, the Terkel Commission plans to begin from the “top” and will first summon  officials such as Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Ashkenazi. It will however reserve the right to summon additional government officials and IDF officers if it feels it requires additional information and clarifications.

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