Ashkenazi: IDF actions in flotilla raid were proportional

In Turkel Committee testimony, IDF chief takes responsibility for interception of Gaza-bound ships, says individual officers shouldn't be summoned to testify.

Turkel Committee (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Turkel Committee
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
In a clear break from the strategy of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi took responsibility on Wednesday for the botched flotilla raid in late May during his testimony before then Turkel Committee.
Ashkenazi told the committee that he was responsible for all IDF operations and that as the representative of the entire military there was no reason to summon additional officers or soldiers to testify before the committee.
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In contrast to Ashkenazi who took responsibility for the raid on the Mavi Marmara Turkish passenger ship, which ended with nine dead Turkish nationals, Barak on Tuesday placed the blame on the IDF, which he said was responsible for warning the government if “the mission cannot be carried out.” In the case of the flotilla the IDF did not warn, Barak said.
Ashkenazi praised the commandos from the Navy’s Flotilla 13 – known as the Shayetet – who boarded the ship and, according to the IDF, were lynched by a group of mercenaries. He said that the second soldier who fast-roped onto the boat from a helicopter was immediately shot.
“The soldiers legitimately opened fire and shot those who they needed to shot and not those who they didn’t need to shoot,” he said.
“I am proud of the soldiers that we have,” Ashkenazi told the committee. “The IDF is a transparent organization that learns from each operation and knows how to investigate itself.”
Ashkenazi also stressed the importance in preventing ships from docking, without inspection, in the Gaza Strip.
“The sea blockade is crucial in preventing terror groups from smuggling large quantities of weaponry into Gaza by sea,” he said. “An open sea will increase the threat against Israel.”