'Our right to self-defense under attack'

Netanyahu to elite IDF soldiers over flotilla raid: "I salute you."

June 8, 2010 15:32
1 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visits wounded N

netanyahu visits troops 311. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom)


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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that "Israel's right to self-defense is under attack." Speaking to elite IDF troops, the prime minister went on, "You have proved that there's no limit to your skill, and I salute you."

Navy commandos from Shayetet 13, the unit involved in last week's raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, were among the group.

'Iranian ships won't reach Gaza'

While the prime minister argues that Israel's self-defense is being undermined, his administration, though no official statement has been issued, seems to be considering the establishment of an Israeli investigative committee – and not a wider government commission of inquiry – with the participation of two foreign observers, one American and one from an unnamed country.

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It is not clear who will lead the probe, but one name being prominently mentioned is law professor Ruth Lapidot. The panel is expected to question the political echelon and senior military officials, but not the soldiers who took part in the raid.

It is also expected to look at the legality of the naval blockade on Gaza, and the legality and manner in which Israel prevented the flotilla from reaching Gaza.

Jerusalem is also discussing the framework of the probe with Washington, to ensure the committee meets US requirements. The State Department stressed that it expected Israel to fulfill the obligations for a credible investigation laid out last week, though officials declined to address specific configurations.

“We expect the Israeli government to conduct a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards that gets to all the facts surrounding this tragic incident,” one State Department official said.

The official reiterated the US position that Washington was “open to different ways of assuring a credible investigation, including international participation,” without specifying which arrangement was preferred.

“We will continue to discuss these ideas with the Israelis and our international partners in the days ahead,” the official said.

“This is a very difficult situation that requires careful, thoughtful responses from all concerned.”

Herb Keinon and Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

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