Israel Defense Forces justify attack on Gaza-bound aid flotilla
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) justified the attack of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla by Israeli commandos in May in a review conducted by a team of experts, RIA Novosti reported.
Israeli commandos stormed the six-ship Freedom Flotilla on May 31 in international waters off the coast of the Gaza Strip. The vessels were carrying around 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid and up to 700 human rights activists to the Palestinian enclave. Nine activists were killed when Israeli armed forces dropped on board from helicopters and opened fire.
"The use of live fire was justified and the entire operation is estimable," the statement said.
The experts said the Israeli commandos "operated properly, with professionalism, bravery and resourcefulness" and "exhibited correct decision making."
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said in a second statement that lessons could be learned from the incident for future missions.
"The IDF is confident enough to critically examine itself and improve based on the conclusions," Ashkenazi said.
He added that no failures or negligence were found, although, "an examination as thorough as this brings up mistakes which must be corrected for future incidents."
The experts found that during the operation "not all possible intelligence-gathering methods were fully implemented" and naval and Israeli defense intelligence lacked coordination.
"The team also pointed out that the anticipated level of violence used against the forces was underestimated," the IDF said, adding that no plans were formulated in the event of more dangerous scenarios.
Israel insists that its soldiers only used force after they were attacked by the aid workers on the flotilla with knives, metal poles and other objects. However, the flotilla's passengers say they were fired at without provocation.
The incident was widely criticized by the international community, most notably Turkey, which lost four nationals in the attack. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged a halt in Turkey's relations with Israel, including in military ties.