(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Judge Advocate General Maj.-Gen. Avihai Mandelblit gave his testimony before the Turkel Committee Thursday, following those of senior military and government officials including the prime minister, defense minister, and the IDF chief of general staff earlier this month.
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Mandelblit's testimony mainly addressed the legal aspects of the IDF's raid on the Gaza-bound Turkish Mavi Marmara aid ship on 31 May, which is the focus of the Turkel Committee's investigation.
He told the panel that Israel's naval blockade of Gaza, in place since
2007, is legal. Further, he noted, even prior to the blockade imposition goods
were transferred into Gaza by land and not by sea, negating the
suggestion that the blockade was to blame for any alleged humanitarian
He defended the 2007 decision, saying that it was made, like
other decisions since, for the protection of Israeli citizens against
Hamas rocket fire.
Regarding the Mavi Marmara
itself, said Mandelblit, the IDF soldiers on board had no intention
whatsoever of violating international law. He added that sinking the ship had never been discussed in meetings prior to the raid, because there was an awareness of the 650 passengers, many of whom were not affiliated with the IHH.