Gabi Ashkenazi Sept. 5, 2010 Alon Ron
IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi meeting with Or Yehuda high school students on Spetember 5, 2010. Photo by Alon Ron
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Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi will testify for a second time before the Turkel Committee investigating the lethal Gaza flotilla raid. The committee called on Ashkenazi to testify again after he refused to allow other senior Israel Defense Forces officers to appear before the panel.

Nine Turkish activists were killed in May when Israeli commandos intercepted the Gaza-bound flotilla.

After Ashkenazi's first testimony, the committee requested to hear other senior officers, including navy chief Admiral Eliezer Marom and Military Intelligence Chief General Amos Yadlin. Ashkenazi has objected to having officers testify before investigation committees, not wanting to expose them to the risks their testimony could create for them. He believes he is the one who should represent the army.

Due to his objection, a year ago the cabinet scrapped a plan to set up an Israeli investigation committee into Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, in the wake of the Goldstone report for the United Nations.

After the Turkel Committee asked Ashkenazi to summon officers, committee coordinator attorney Hoshea Gottlieb spoke about the matter with Ashkenazi's aide, Col. Erez Weiner. "Ashkenazi was unequivocally opposed to having his officers summoned," a source close to the matter said.

The committee finally agreed to make do with Ashkenazi testifying a second time. He will answer the questions directed at the navy and Military Intelligence.

The only officer to appear before the panel, apart from Ashkenazi, will be the Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit. Ashkenazi does not object to this because the committee intends to use Mendelblit as an expert on legal and international law issues regarding the Gaza blockade.

The committee may publish an interim report of its findings next month. If not, it will publish its final report only next year.