Ya'alon: Probe needed of navy tacticsBy YAAKOV KATZ AND HERB KEINON
IDF panel of experts begins investigating 'Mavi Marmara' raid.Talkbacks (1)
“The decision not to allow the flotilla to reach Gaza was the right decision,” Ya’alon said during a meeting with local council heads in the Knesset. “The soldiers’ decision to open fire was made in self-defense. The soldiers and commanders are deserving of praise and appreciation for their bravery – but in the same place that medals are given out, it is also necessary to investigate the military planning of the operation.”
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The critical comments by Ya’alon were the first made by a senior cabinet minister regarding last week’s operation, which ended with nine dead passengers – all of them, according to the IDF, part of a group of well-trained mercenaries who violently attacked the navy commandos as they boarded the ship.
Ya’alon was acting prime minister at the time of the operation, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in Canada for high-level diplomatic talks.
Kadima MK Yoel Hasson slammed Ya’alon and claimed that in his remarks, the deputy prime minister had implied that the operation had been flawed from the outset and had not gone through the correct decision-making process.
“There is no limit to Ya’alon and Netanyahu’s attempts to evade responsibility,” Hasson said.
Also Tuesday, a panel of military experts – set up by Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi – began investigating the flotilla operation.
Headed by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, the former head of the National Security Council, the panel is expected to collect testimony from Ashkenazi, navy head V.-Adm. Eli Marom and other senior officers involved in planning the operation.
Meanwhile, the government still appeared to be waiting Tuesday to ensure that it would have the backing of the US and key players in Europe before making a formal announcement regarding the type of probe it would establish.
One diplomatic official said that Israel’s friends abroad, such as Germany and France, were entreating the government to “help us help you” – meaning they wanted Israel to set up an independent and credible body to investigate the events.
If Israel is able to get the US, as well as countries like France and Germany, to back the type of probe being set up, diplomatic officials said, it would be able to deflect calls – including those coming from Turkey – for an international investigation.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his inner cabinet, a forum known as the “septet,” have reportedly agreed on the establishment of an Israeli committee made up of jurists and diplomats who would probe the legality of the blockade on Gaza, as well as the manner in which Israel prevented the flotilla from reaching the territory.
The probe is expected to question the political echelon and senior military officials, but not the soldiers who took part in the raid. The committee is also expected to include two foreign observers – one from the US, and the other from another, as-yet-unnamed country.
Diplomatic officials said the US was keen on the involvement of another country, not wanting to be the only international representative on the committee.
POOR EXCUSE! Sounds logical, doesn't it? But the r...
And the farce continues.....witnesses will be subpoena'ed : does that include every single one of our soldiers? I sure hope so. But meanwhile Barak's decision making process, who influenced him, who participated in the decision to send soldiers without real weapons to their possible deaths and kidnapping, the whole scam, with other words, will NOT be investigated.
New and Improved Flotilla Committee
The committee, headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Yaakov Turkel, was established earlier this month under heavy international pressure to find out exactly what occurred before and during the boarding of the Turkish-IHH Gaza-bound ship.
Israeli forces repeatedly warned a flotilla of ships heading for Gaza not to do so, as the area was under Israeli blockade. The ships did not adhere to these orders, but did not resist when the forces boarded them and steered them towards Ashdod – except for the Mavi Marmara, whose passengers attacked the Israelis with iron clubs, knives, and axes, and even shot at them and held some commandos captive. The Israelis were finally able to regroup and overcome their attackers, killing nine in the process – some of whom had expressed the prior wish to die as Islamic martyrs.
The Turkel committee was widely mocked for having “no teeth” and little real authority. On Tuesday, it was announced in Judge Turkel’s name that he planned to resign if the authorities were not expanded.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, after discussing it with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and Justice Minister Yaakov Ne’eman, quickly agreed that Turkel’s demands were not worth refusing.
The main changes are that Turkel’s committee will be able to subpoena witnesses and have them testify under oath, and will be expanded from three members to five.
It will still not be mandated to investigate the government’s decision-making process regarding the flotilla, however. Instead, it will investigate the legality of Israel’s take-over of the ship, which is related to the legality of the blockade imposed by Israel on its enemy, Hamas-run Gaza. In addition, it will examine why Israel imposed the blockade, as well as the behavior of those who organized the flotilla, mainly the terrorist-associated Turkish IHH organization and Turkey itself.
The commission held its first session on Monday, and featured short statements by the two international observers, Lord David Trimble of Ireland and former Canadian judge advocate-general Ken Watkin.
In addition to Judge Turkel, the committee also numbers international law expert Shabtai Rosenne and Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Horev. Most of the committee hearings will be open to the public.