Netanyahu says ready to testify in flotilla inquiry

JERUSALEM Wed Jun 9, 2010 12:47pm EDT

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) attends a Likud party meeting at parliament in Jerusalem June 7, 2010. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) attends a Likud party meeting at parliament in Jerusalem June 7, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Ammar Awad

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday he was willing to testify in an inquiry Israel intends to hold into its deadly raid on a convoy of aid ships bound for the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip.

A formal Israeli announcement of an investigation of the May 31 bloodshed awaits the conclusion of consultations with Israel's main ally, the United States, on a format for the probe, Israeli officials said.

"We will be prepared to appear and give all the facts," Netanyahu said in a speech, mentioning himself, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, the military's chief of staff.

Israeli commandos killed nine Turks, including one who also held U.S. nationality, after boarding the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara and being swarmed by pro-Palestinian activists with clubs and knives.

The bloodshed triggered an international outcry and strained relations between Israel and its once-close Muslim ally, Turkey. Israel called the troops' actions "self-Defense." Turkey described the killings as "state-sponsored terrorism."

Amid world pressure to ease its Gaza blockade and agree to a U.S.-backed U.N. call for a "prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation," Israel has expressed willingness to involve foreign observers in its own inquiry.


"The examination must include answers to questions that some in the international community prefer to ignore: Who was behind the extremist group on the ship's deck? Who sponsored its members?" Netanyahu said.

All of the nine dead on the Mavi Marmara were members or volunteers for the Foundation for Human Rights and Freecoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH).

The IHH says it is an Islamic charity group funded entirely by donations. Israel says the IHH supports Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and other militant Islamist groups. But it does not classify the IHH as a terrorist organization.

"The world needs to know the whole picture," Netanyahu said. "And we will make sure the whole picture comes to light."

He said Israel's investigation would also focus on how "axes, clubs, knives and other light weapons" were brought on board the ship and on the "very large sums of money" he contended were found "in the pockets of those people on deck."

The Israeli military has announced its own investigation, focusing on the operational aspects of a raid seen by many in Israel as a fiasco in which planners failed to gauge the strength of resistance on board.

Netanyahu, echoing remarks made by a spokesman on Tuesday, said officers and soldiers would not testify at the government-ordered inquiry, which would rely on the statements they made to the military panel.

Israel says its Gaza blockade is necessary to limit weapons smuggling to Hamas.

The U.N. says the Israeli embargo, which includes a ban on cement crucial for reconstruction after the December 2008-January 2009 Gaza war, has caused a humanitarian crisis in the enclave. Israel rejects the allegation, citing its frequent shipments of fuel and medical aid into the area.

(Editing by Diana Abdallah)

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Comments (23)
daveg812 wrote:
Indeed the Israelis have been building up this pressure cooker since 1948. They add to the fire and keep the lid on over and over again. Once more the lid is on while Israel conducts its own investigation into its own crime. Same as the Gaza war, same as blocking all other media from watching or reporting anything they wish to hide. Same as buiding an Apartheid wall on Palestine’s land. The pressure cooker won’t hold for long. Just wait for the big explosion and the end of Israel as a state.

Jun 09, 2010 11:25am EDT  --  Report as abuse
tergen wrote:
What would other countries do in Israel’s situation?

Imagine China, Russia, U.S.A, etc. having won wars and confrontations over a 60 year period.

Would they be negotiating for peace or would they have long ago used the full might of their military to obtain an unconditional surrender?

Perhaps Israel’s biggest mistake is allowing itself to be bullied into trying to spare the Palestinian people because of the incompetence and criminal negligence of the various Palestinian leaderships.

Jun 09, 2010 11:30am EDT  --  Report as abuse
GOLUM wrote:
Israel is a special case tergen.(I am Trying to keep a straight face!)
Firstly Israel and supporters claim G-D gave them that piece of land.No other country in this day and age can make such an Archaic claim!
China,Russia,USA are not recieving massive funding and political support from outside their borders.Save for Olmert,and Meir all of Israel’s Prime ministers have had Blood on their hands.Only Russia or China can come close.

According to the Christian Science Monitor,the cost of Israel to the American TAXpayer has been over $1.6 TRILLION since 1973.

Jun 09, 2010 11:48am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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