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Ashkenazi: Cooler Heads Will Prevail in Turkish Indictment

Former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi says logic will prevail between Jerusalem and Turkey; is still proud to defend his soldiers
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 5/28/2012, 9:38 PM

Ashkenazi as Chief of Staff (file)
Ashkenazi as Chief of Staff (file)
Flash 90

Former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi responded Monday to a Turkish indictment saying he believed "cooler heads and logic would prevail."

“Turkey is an important country and both Israel and Turkey have an interest in stabilizing the Middle East,” Ashkenazi said. “I am sure that at the end of the day, logic will prevail on this matter."

“From the beginning, I chose to appear in all forums, often by myself, in order to defend the IDF soldiers who did their work in the field for the nation of Israel,” Ashkenazi continued. “If the price of standing up for those soldiers is that I will not be able to visit Turkey, I am prepared to pay that price.”

A Turkish court on Monday indicted Ashkenazi and three other former IDF officers on charges of manslaughter, in connection with his role as head of the Israeli military during Mavi Marmara incident in 2010.

Last September, the United Nation's 105-page "Palmer Report" concluded that Israel's naval blockade of Hamas in Gaza is both reasonable and legal, and said the IHH – the Turkish aid group that primarily organized the 2010 flotilla - had lain in wait for the commandos.

“Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza,” the report says in its opening paragraphs. “The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”

“There exist serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers, particularly IHH," the report also said.

Nonetheless, the report faulted the IDF for "excessive and unreasonable" force, saying Israel should have issued warnings closer to the moment of action and should have first turned to nonviolent options.

The conclusion utterly ignored that the commandos who boarded the vessel were armed with less-than-lethal 'pneumatic guns' and that 'live fire' was only employed when those proved insufficient to stop the threat to life and limb they faced.

According to the IDF – and video of the incident – the lynch mob fired on the soldiers, attacked them with metal clubs and knives, and threw one of them into the sea. It was only when the soldiers feared for their lives that they employed deadly force.

Three of the soldiers were recognized as being disabled following the confrontation.

Turkey rejected the findings of the Palmer Report amid a furious fusillade of bellicose rhetoric – including threatening to send warships to violate Israel’s naval blockade – and reduced diplomatic ties with Israel.

Meanwhile, MK Nachman Shai (Kadima) called on Israel’s government “not to remain indifferent” to the indictments. He demanded a Turkish company’s tender for an Israeli gas pipeline project be cancelled.