'Flotilla probes are out of line'

Ashkenazi says he would testify before Turkel Commission.

ashkenazi 311 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
ashkenazi 311
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
The increase in the number of commissions of inquiry established to probe Israel’s boarding of a Gaza-bound flotilla two months ago is “out of line,” IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said on Sunday during a visit to the Tel Hashomer Induction Center to meet with new recruits.
On Friday, the UN Human Rights Council named a panel of experts to investigate whether the naval operation on May 31, which prevented six ships from breaking the Israeli-imposed sea blockade of the Gaza Strip, had been a breach of international law. Nine Turkish men were killed in clashes with naval commandos.
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“My personal opinion is that more probes into the flotilla are out of line,” Ashkenazi said. He added that if need be, he, and not the soldiers or commanders who participated in the operation, would meet with the government-established probe led by former Supreme Court justice Jacob Turkel.
Regarding the possibility that two ships from Lebanon will set sail for Gaza in the coming days, Ashkenazi said that Israel holds the Lebanese government responsible for stopping the planned flotilla, echoing similar comments made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday. The navy has been on high alert ahead of the possibility that the ships – currently docked in the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli – will leave for the Gaza Strip, just a few hours away by sea.
Ashkenazi also weighed in on the continued drop in draft numbers and called on every 18-year-old Israeli who does not serve in the IDF to perform alternative service in the Israel Police, Magen David Adom or the fire service.
“We cannot ignore that in a few years even more people will not serve,” he said. “The way to solve this is by creating a civil national service model.”