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      Turkel Panel Unanimously Clears IDF in Flotilla Clash

      The IDF acted in self-defense against IHH terrorists in the flotilla clash on the Mavi Mamara boat, the Turkel investigative panel concluded.
      By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
      First Publish: 1/23/2011, 2:55 PM / Last Update: 1/23/2011, 3:08 PM

      The IDF acted in self-defense against IHH terrorists in the May 31 flotilla clash on the Mavi Mamara boat, the Turkel investigative panel unanimously concluded Sunday.

      The seven-member committee included two foreign observers, Brig. Gen. Ken Watkin of Canada and Lord David Trimble of Northern Ireland.

      The panel, headed by retired High Court Justice Yaakov Turkel, stated that the Navy commandos’ counter terrorist actions "were found to be legal pursuant to the rules of international law."

      The ship supposedly was carrying humanitarian cargo, but the Turkel panel verified previous evidence that there was none on board.

      The report categorically declared that after the IDF commandos announced on loudspeaker that the ship could not proceed to Gaza, where Israel has declared a sea embargo to prevent smuggling of weapons and terrorists, IHH  terror activists began to prepare weapons. They used an electric saw to cut metal bars and assembled more than 200 knives and other weapons for use against the commandos.

      The terrorists "were armed with clubs,” which they used to attack commandoes as they landed on deck. Three soldiers were taken to the lower deck, and two others were shot and stabbed. Two of the soldiers jumped overboard to save their lives.

      The commission also said that the blockade of Gaza does not violate international laws. "No one has the right to ignore the naval siege that was carried out by the flotilla on its way to Gaza," Justice Turkel said.

      After the clash, the international community roundly criticized Israel, both before and after video evidence showing the attack by the IHH terrorists, nine of whom were killed in the battle. Four of those killed belonged to the IHH, four others were associated with Islamic terrorist groups, and one other was not known to be linked to a terror group, the committee added.