Ashkenazi walks fine line ahead of appearance at Turkel panel
IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi will appear before the Turkel Committee on Wednesday and is expected to say that he warned of the risks inherent in May's raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi will appear before the Turkel Committee today, and is expected to say that he warned of the risks inherent in May's raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, but the ministers insisted on going ahead with it.
Both Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who testified yesterday and Monday, respectively, said that how the flotilla should be stopped was left entirely up to the army.
That leaves Ashkenazi in a difficult position: He cannot blame the government directly, but at the same time, he has an obligation to defend his subordinates - the naval officers who planned the raid and the commandos who carried it out.
Thus, he is expected to acknowledge that there were flaws in the army's plan, but to insist that they were not catastrophic, and that the lessons - particularly about the need to give more weight to worst-case scenarios - have been learned.
He is also expected to argue - though perhaps only in that portion of his testimony that will be closed to the public - that the government shares the blame, because it insisted on a military operation despite his own warning that a non-military option would be preferable.
Tension between the government and the army is natural after any failure on the scale of the flotilla raid, but it has been made worse by preexisting tensions between Barak and Ashkenazi, inter alia with regard to the appointment of Ashkenazi's successor.