Thursday, 12 August 2010

Israel to block future Gaza flotillas

Defending Tel Aviv's deadly attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla, Israel's army chief has vowed to block future aid shipments heading toward the besieged strip.

"If they come, they will be stopped by our defensive shield," Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi said in his address to the audience at the naval graduation ceremony in Haifa on Wednesday, Haaretz reported.

"There is no doubt that you will manage to stop the nearing threats," he added a few hours after he defended Israeli commandos' deadly attack on the Gaza aid flotilla in the internal panel to substantiate the legality of the onslaught.

The late May attack left nine Turkish activists dead and dozens more injured.

While the activists, onboard the aid ships, say Israeli commandos opened fire upon boarding the Mavi Marmara, Ashkenazi said Israeli forces did not use excessive force and acted proportionally.

Israel's army chief also rejected Turkish charges that some of the victims had been shot "execution-style" at point-blank, saying that shots had been fired at close range as part of a life and death struggle.

Turkish post-mortem examinations have revealed that a total of 30 bullets were found in the bodies of the nine dead activists. One of the activists had been shot four times in the head.

Ashkenazi, who has taken responsibility for the military's actions, is the only military officer scheduled to appear before the inquiry. He was the third senior figure to address Israel's self-ordered Tirkel commission after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

The attack was widely condemned by the international community.

Turkey sets up own Gaza flotilla inquiry
Probe will work under the office of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and present findings to UN, AFP news agency reports.

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