Army chief to testify again before Israel flotilla probe

JERUSALEM — Israel’s armed forces chief Gabi Ashkenazi was on Thursday asked to testify for a second time before an Israeli committee probing the navy’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, a spokesman said.

By (AFP)

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Published: Thu 14 Oct 2010, 8:16 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:21 AM

The request was presented in a letter from the Tirkel Commission which invited the outgoing chief of staff to testify on October 24 “regarding the navy’s operation to seize control of the Mavi Marmara.”

Most of the deadly violence which left nine Turkish activists dead and scores more people wounded took place on board the Mavi Marmara, which was part of a six-ship aid flotilla trying to run Israel’s blockade on Gaza.

Ashkenazi last appeared before the five-member committee in mid August when he defended his troops’ use of lethal fire when they stormed the vessel.

The panel does not have the authority to call troops involved in the botched operation, and attempts to hear testimony from two Arab Israelis who were on board the Marmara fell through on Wednesday after they failed to show up, committee spokesman Ofer Lefler said.

“We have no idea why they didn’t show up but we have called them to appear again on October 25,” Lefler told AFP, saying that if necessary, the police would be asked to ensure they turned up to testify.

It was not immediately possible to reach either of the two men.

Israel says its commandos resorted to force only after they were attacked when they rappelled onto the deck of one of the ships, but pro-Palestinian activists on board say the soldiers opened fire as soon as they landed.

The committee, which now comprises four experts after one of its elderly members died, is investigating the legality of the May 31 raid and of Israel’s actions to defend its naval blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Its work is being monitored by two foreign observers.



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