Israel PM defends flotilla raid

2010-08-09 19:26

kalahari.com

Jerusalem - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted Israel acted in line with international law in a raid on Gaza-bound aid ships which killed nine Turks, in testimony on Monday before an Israeli panel.

Netanyahu also accused Ankara of looking to gain from a high-profile confrontation between Turkish activists aboard the flotilla's lead ship and the soldiers who seized the vessels in international waters on May 31.

"I am convinced that at the end of your investigation, it will become clear that the state of Israel and the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) acted in accordance with international law," Netanyahu told members of the Tirkel Commission.

Sitting in a chair facing the five-member panel and the two international observers, Netanyahu looked at ease as he explained that the naval blockade is crucial to efforts to prevent weapons from entering the coastal strip run by Hamas, an Islamist movement sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state.

Netanyahu also said Israel exerted every diplomatic effort to have the ships in the flotilla turn back or dock elsewhere.

Humanitarian crisis

But Turkey made no effort to halt the six-ship flotilla organised by the "radical Turkish organisation IHH (Foundation of Humanitarian Relief) which supports Hamas", he said.

"The Turkish government did not consider the confrontation between Turkish activists and Israel to be against its interests," he charged.

Even so, Netanyahu insisted he had ordered troops to make "a supreme effort... to avoid harming anyone".

He also reiterated Israel's long-held assertion that there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, just the perception of one.

"There is no starvation in Gaza," he said, complaining about groups that "undermined the blockade through false claims of a humanitarian crisis".

Netanyahu evaded several questions, including whether Israel had considered alternatives to military action, saying he would respond during the closed-door session that followed the 90 minutes of public testimony.

Netanyahu was the first of three top officials to give sworn testimony about the May 31 assault on the fleet of boats trying to run the blockade on Gaza, killing nine Turkish activists and wounding scores of others.

The bloody raid caused a diplomatic crisis between Israel and Turkey and sparked global calls for an inquiry - prompting Netanyahu's government to set up the Tirkel Commission to look into the legality of the operation.

Operational aspects

Israel says its commandos resorted to force only after they were attacked when they rappelled onto the deck of the Mavi Marmara.

The soldiers "faced a very real danger to their lives from brutal attacks with clubs, metal rods and knives", Netanyahu said, adding the Turkish ferry "was no love boat and the IHH activists were not exactly innocent peace activists".

But activists have claimed troops opened fire as soon as they landed. The committee is only mandated to examine the international legality of the naval blockade and of the actions taken to enforce it.

Panel members are not authorised to probe the decision-making process which led up to the operation, nor do they have the authority to question troops involved in storming the boats.

Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhum said the commission could not be trusted because Israel "is trying to cover up its crime and is not telling the truth", he said in a statement.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak will take the stand on Tuesday, followed by armed forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi on Wednesday, with both likely to be questioned over the operational aspects of boarding the ships.

Last week UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon named his own panel to look into the botched raid, which is set to begin work on Tuesday and includes representatives from Israel and Turkey.

Read more on:    israel  |  gaza ship raid
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
 

Numsa prepares for life after Cosatu

Numsa has not only reiterated its call for President Jacob Zuma to resign but it is also preparing for life outside of Cosatu, a report states.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Note 16GB

GALAXY Note combines the market's largest HD Super AMOLED display,...

From R3899.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.