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IDF Moves to Protect Naval Commandos

The IDF has moved to protect the commandos involved in the Mavi Marmara boarding action following the release of the UN Palmer Report
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 9/2/2011, 4:52 PM

Navy commando boards Gaza-bound weapons ship
Navy commando boards Gaza-bound weapons ship
IDF

The IDF plans to take legal precautions to protect members of the Shayatet-13, Israel's Naval Commando, and other senior officers from criminal lawsuits that may arise following the publication of the UN Palmer Report.

While the report concluded Israel's Gaza-blockade is "legal and appropriate," and conceded the commandos were faced with "organized and violent resistance," it castigated the IDF boarding action of the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara.

"The loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force by Israeli forces during the takeover of the Mavi Marmara was unacceptable," the report said.

A senior IDF officer said the report could potentially serve as the basis for criminal lawsuits against the commandos who boarded the ship, as well as additional senior IDF officers, including commander of the navy Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom and then chief of General Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, for their role in the operation.

Both officers are already vulnerable to legal action due to their involvement in Operation Cast Lead in Gaza two years ago.

“This is a serious challenge that we will need to prepare for,” the senior officer said. “While the report justified the blockade we cannot minimize the potential legal threat that stems from its conclusion that the commandos used excessive force.”

As a result, the Military Advocate- General’s Office and the Justice Ministry are setting up a special team to study the legal consequences of the report and possible ways to provide protections to IDF soldiers.

Senior officers said the commandos were attacked by a group of armed passengers and responded with force out of self-defense and after a number of them had been stabbed, beaten and taken hostage by the passengers into the ship’s lower levels.

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) on Friday called for Israel to file a suit against Turkey on behalf of the commandos who were injured - and for operational expenses incurred by Israel - due to Turkey's negligence in allowing the flotilla to embark for Gaza.

The report strongly criticized Turkey saying it did not do enough to prevent the IHH flotilla from setting sail.

Turkey has rejected the Palmer Report's conclusions and has said it will downgrade relations with Israel if it does not issue a full apology, pay reparations to the families of the 9 Turkish nationals killed when they tried to lynch the commandos, and terminate the Gaza-blockade.