Ashkenazi takes full responsibility for May flotilla massacre
|Thursday, August 12,2010 14:53|
Israeli military chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi during the publicized Turkel investigation into the deadly attack on the Freedom Flotilla said he is fully responsible for all operations carried out by the Israeli army, a stand opposite of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and war minister Ehud Barak, who dumped responsibility on officers and army leaders.
As posted on Hebrew sites on Wednesday, Ashkenazi appeared before the Turkel committee to testify on his military’s operation following testimonies recently given by Netanyahu and Barak.
As a leader of the Israeli army, he confirmed, he bears responsibility for all military operations carried out by the army. But Ashkenazi said he was "proud" of the officers and soldiers involved in the act, arguing that use of arms in seizing the ships was in compliance with Israeli military law, especially after the army was exposed to danger.
In defense of the attack, Ashkenazi said the soldiers’ conduct “was correct, as they were subjected to real danger from the first moment.”
“It is now clear, after the investigation by the committee formed by the Israeli army that the first soldier who boarded the Marmara ship was attacked, and this led to shots fired at the attackers. Shots were fired at the attackers and no others,” he went on to say.
In an attempt to justify the Israeli naval force’s block of the Freedom Flotilla, Ashkenazi said “terrorist” organizations in the Gaza Strip “attempt to gain weapons to attack Israel, and this is the reason for the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.” He alleged that the “terrorist” organizations will use any means to smuggle arms into the Strip.
The committee’s chairman, Jacob Turkel, asked Ashkenazi if he had sufficient security information on the Turkish organization responsible for the Freedom Flotilla. “Especially since you talk about clear intentions to smuggle arms into the Gaza Strip,” asked Turkel.
Ashkenazi responded: “Indeed we did not have detailed information on the Turkish IHH organization, or on the nature of its activities in detail, especially since we consider Turkey a friendly state and there are strong ties between us, and I hope such ties will continue. At the same time, this organization was not a top concern for Israeli security services like other terrorist organizations.”