IDF (Zahal) Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi testified on Sunday (Oct. 24) for the second time before the Turkel Commission which investigates last May’s flotilla events

Date: 25/10/2010, 1:08 PM    

The Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, testified on Sunday (Oct. 24) for the second time before the Turkel Commission, which is in charge of investigating last May’s flotilla events, after being summoned by the Commission. In his testimony, the IDF (Zahal) Chief of Staff repeated most of what he said when he testified previously, saying that IDF (Zahal) soldiers acted properly and appropriately during the takeover of the Mavi Marmara boat. “Even after we carried out an in-depth questioning of the soldiers, the conclusion which came up even stronger was that there was a measured response from our soldiers to the harsh reality onboard the Marmara”, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi said.

According to the Chief of Staff, the soldiers were questioned first by the Eiland Committee and then by the Turkel Commission, constituting “an unprecedented case. The extensive investigations reinforce the feeling of pride and confidence I have in the soldiers. They reinforced the conclusions and showed how the activists were prepared for a violent confrontation and our response was proportionate”.

“It was not a demonstration by peace activists. Peace activists do not know how to grab a gun and cock it, nor do they put on gas masks and bulletproof vests in the middle of the night”, added the Chief of Staff in his testimony. He also noted that the equipment found on the Marmara, including the hundreds of knives and axes and even the diving equipment intended for attacking IDF (Zahal) forces in case of an underwater operation “proves the determination to act not as innocent demonstrators but as an organization determined to injure the soldiers and prevent the interception”.

After his testimony, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi discussed the existence of the Gaza maritime blockade, saying that “the blockade is important from a security standpoint for preventing terror operatives from smuggling large amounts of weaponry into the Gaza Strip, and preventing weaponry from reaching Gaza by sea. This is how we prevent attacks from Gaza against Israel. The maritime blockade has a significant influence and opening the maritime route to ships can increase and aggravate the threat”.