Netanyahu: Raid on Gaza Flotilla Was Necessary to Protect Israel

Turkel Commission finds that Israel's blockade on Gaza is legal, and that Israeli soldiers acted in self-defense during raid on a Gaza-bound ship which killed nine Turkish citizens.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday expressed his satisfaction with the findings of Turkel Commission, which probed the Israel Defense Forces raid on a Gaza-bound ship last May and found that Israeli soldiers acted in accordance with international law during the operation.

"The truth is simple," said Netanyahu. "IDF soldiers defended themselves and their country. It is not only their privilege but also their duty and the State of Israel stands behind their actions."

Netanyahu also added that every time Israel needs to defend itself, it is charged with committing war crimes. "It also happened when we came to enforce the blockade on Gaza," he said. "The IDF soldiers board the Marmara with courage and restraint. The goal was to enforce the naval blockade on Gaza."

"The whole world saw how our soldiers were attacked and were forced to defend their lives. We established an independent panel of inquiry and the report that it submitted clearly shows that both the blockade on Gaza and its enforcement are legal, and that IDF soldiers acted legally and in self-defense," said Netanyahu.

Netanyahu - AP - Jan 19, 2011

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also lauded the Turkel Commission's report on Sunday, saying that its findings prove Israel is a law-abiding nation.

The first part of the panel's report, released Sunday, found that the Israeli soldiers who took part in a raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla last May which resulted in the deaths of nine people had acted in self-defense. It also determined that Israel's three-and-a-half year blockade of the Gaza Strip does not break international law.