IDF to defend flotilla commandos against legal action

Army plans to take legal precautions to protect naval commandos from criminal lawsuits following the Palmer Report.

Mavi Marmara Raid 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Mavi Marmara Raid 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The IDF plans to take legal precautions to protect commandos from the navy’s Flotilla 13 and other senior officers from criminal lawsuits that could be filed against them following the publication of the Palmer Report.
While the report justified Israel’s decision to impose a sea blockade on the Gaza Strip, it harshly criticized the navy’s operation to stop the Gaza-bound flotilla, saying “the loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force by Israeli forces during the takeover of the Mavi Marmara was unacceptable.”
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A senior IDF officer said the report could potentially serve as the basis for criminal lawsuits against the commandos who boarded the ship as well as additional senior IDF officers, including commander of the navy V.-Adm. Eliezer Marom and the chief of General Staff at the time, Lt.- Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, for their role in the operation.
Both officers are already vulnerable to legal action due to their involvement in Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip two years ago.
“This is a serious challenge that we will need to prepare for,” the senior officer said. “While the reportjustified the blockade we cannot minimize the potential legal threat that stems from its conclusion that the commandos used excessive force.”
As a result, the Military Advocate- General’s Office and the Justice Ministry are setting up a special team to study the legal consequences of the report and possible ways to provide protections to IDF soldiers.
Due to this threat, Defense Minister Ehud Barak tried to broker a compromise with Turkey in an effort to minimize the legal exposure to the commandos.
Despite the commission’s conclusions, the IDF stood behind the commandos on Thursday.
Senior officers said the commandos were attacked by a group of armed mercenaries and responded with force out of selfdefense and after a number of them had been stabbed, beaten and taken hostage by the passengers into the ship’s lower levels.