Turkey: Israel's Probe of Gaza Flotilla Has No Value or Credibility

Israel's Turkel Commission finds that IDF soldiers acted in self-defense during raid on Gaza-bound ship, concludes Israel's blockade of Gaza is in accordance with international law.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected Sunday the findings of an Israeli panel of inquiry into an Israel Defense Forces raid on a Gaza-bound ship last May, dismissing the Israeli conclusions that the IDF soldiers acted in self-defense when they killed nine Turkish citizens on board the ship.

Erdogan told reporters in Ankara on Sunday that the Israeli report had "no value or credibility." The Turkish Foreign Ministry also issued a statement in response to the Israeli inquiry and said it was "appalled and dismayed" at the findings, which cleared Israel of wrongdoing in the raid on the Turkish ship.

In the first part of its report, the Turkel Commission determined on Sunday that Israel's three and a half year blockade of Gaza did not in fact break international law. The first part of the report focused on the legality of the blockade on Gaza and of Israeli efforts to enforce it, including the raid on the six-ship flotilla.

Turkey condemned the findings of Israel's Turkel Commission, and said that in its own panel of inquiry it found Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip and its raid on the Turkish-led Gaza flotilla in violation of international law.

Mavi Marmara-AP- May 22, 2010

Israeli naval commanders boarded the Mavi Marmara, the flagship of the Turkish-sponsored Gaza-bound aid flotilla, on May 31, 2010. The activists on board the boat resisted, and nine people were killed. The commission determined that the incident did not constitute an offense against international law as there were clear indications that the flotilla intended to break the naval blockade.

The report also determined that Israel had been in compliance with the formal conditions of enforcing a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, adding that Israel had also complied with the humanitarian conditions for such a blockade.

However, the report was critical of Israel's land blockade of the coastal enclave, calling on Israel to "examine of the medical needs of the people of Gaza in order to find ways to improve the current situation."

The commission also urged the Israeli government to examine ways to "focus its sanctions on Hamas while avoiding harm against the civilian population."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak lauded the conclusions of the probe on Sunday, saying that the report proves Israel is a law-abiding nation.

Meanwhile, Balad MK Hanin Zuabi, who took part in the flotilla, criticized the report for ignoring its most important aspect, according to her – the killing of nine Turkish citizens by IDF soldiers. She said the report  "cannot erase Israel's reputation as a country that repeatedly breaks international law."