"There are 1.5 million people living in Gaza and only one of them really needs humanitarian aid,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said to the Knesset on Monday. “Only one of them is locked in a tiny room and never sees the light of day, only one of them is not allowed visits and is in uncertain health – his name is Gilad Shalit, and this month four years will have passed since he was kidnapped.”
IDF soldiers who seized control of Gaza-bound ships last week will not face questioning, the Defense Minister said. There have been calls to investigate the incident, which led to a clash between soldiers and armed attackers on board the boats in which nine people were killed.
"I insist that soldiers not be required to undergo an investigation... We don't plan to investigate soldiers in Hebrew or in English,” he said in response to no-confidence measures brought before the Knesset.
While individual soldiers will not face investigation, the incident as a whole should be looked into in order to assess IDF performance, Barak continued. By investigating IDF decisions, Israel is better prepared for future operations, he said.
The defense minister countered accusations that the navy was unprepared for the level of armed resistance it encountered aboard the ship Mavi Marmara. “We very rarely have all the information before beginning an operation,” he said. “No operation goes exactly as planned. This isn't the movies... The line between success and failure is very thin.”
Barak defended the IDF naval blockade on Gaza, and termed the sending of ships to Gaza “a provocative move, intended primarily to create a violent, deadly collision.”
The defense minister rejected claims that the Israeli blockade has caused a crisis in Gaza. “There's no humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” he stated.
IDF Commander in Chief Gabi Ashkenazi later announced the members of an internal IDF committee of experts who will investigate the operation to stop the "pacifist" flotilla.