(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Aid flotillas that
attempt to break the naval siege on Gaza in the future will be blocked
by the Israel Navy's defensive shield, IDF Chief of General Staff
Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said on Wednesday.RELATED:
Speaking at the naval
graduation ceremony in Haifa Ashkenazi said that "if they come, they
will be stopped by our defensive shield."
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Ashkenazi addressed the graduates and told them that they have the ability to stop future flotillas.
chief of staff earlier on Wednesday claimed responsibility for the
botched raid on the Mavi Marmara in late May, in a sharp break from the
Turkel Commission testimonies of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who tried to push the responsibility down
the chain of command.
Ashkenazi told the commission he was
responsible for all IDF operations and that, as he was the
representative of the entire military, there was no reason to summon
additional officers or soldiers to testify before the panel.
contrast, Barak placed the blame Tuesday on the IDF, which he said was
responsible for warning the government if “the mission cannot be carried
Ashkenazi praised the commandos from the navy’s Flotilla
13 – known as the Shayetet – who boarded the Turkish passenger ship and,
according to the IDF, were ambushed by a group of mercenaries. He said
that the second soldier who fast-roped onto the boat from a helicopter
had immediately been shot.
“The soldiers legitimately opened fire
and shot those whom they needed to shoot, and not those whom they
didn’t need to shoot,” he said.
“I am proud of the soldiers that
we have,” Ashkenazi told the inquiry commission. “The IDF is a
transparent organization that learns from each operation and knows how
to investigate itself.”
The IDF’s main mistake, Ashkenazi said,
was in the wrong assessment that only about 10 or 15 people would resist
the commando raid on the ship.
“The central mistake, including
mine, was that we thought there were about 10-15 people on the ship, and
that if we threw stun grenades, they would move away, and then we would
be able to drop 15 soldiers in one minute,” Ashkenazi explained. “Here
was the real error. We needed, instead, to create conditions to
accumulate a force on board the ship as quickly as possible.”
also said that the soldiers should have targeted the rioters on the
ship’s upper deck who were preventing the commandos from fast-roping
down from helicopters.
“This would have decreased the risk of harm to our soldiers. That is the central lesson for the next operation,” he said.
also admitted that the IDF had not collected intelligence on the IHH,
the radical Turkish organization that organized the flotilla.
level of knowledge we had on the organization was not like the level of
information we have on Hamas,” he said. “We did not investigate the
organization. It was not on our list of our priorities, because it was
not listed as a terrorist organization and was located in Turkey, which
is not an enemy state.”
Nine Turkish men were killed in the raid.
Ashkenazi stressed the importance of preventing ships from docking in the Gaza Strip without inspection.
sea blockade is crucial in preventing terrorist groups from smuggling
large quantities of weaponry into Gaza by sea,” he said. “An open sea
will increase the threat against Israel.”