Daily Israel Report

Marmara Commission: IDF Investigations Meet Int'l Standards

The Turkel Commission, which was formed in the wake of the deaths of nine Turks on the Mavi Marmara, submits its second report.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/7/2013, 2:13 AM

Netanyahu and members of Turkel Commission
Netanyahu and members of Turkel Commission
Flash 90

The Turkel Commission, which was formed in 2010 in the wake of the deaths of nine Turkish nationals aboard the Gaza-bound Turkish boat Mavi Marmara, submitted its second report to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.

The 1,000-page report concluded that the IDF should form special units to investigate operational incidents. It also said that Israeli military investigations into war crimes' claims meet international standards.

The report included 19 recommendations for improving the system of reviewing and investigating possible war crimes.

It found problems with the security and defense establishment's decision-making process that led to the decision to board the Marmara in international waters.

Among other recommendations, the Turkel Commission said the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) should videotape interrogations and that complaints against the agency should be investigated by the police rather than internally.

Netanyahu told the Commission’s members upon receiving the report, "I welcome the Commission's determination that, in general, the investigation mechanisms in Israel operate in accordance with the standards set in international law. We will consider the areas in which the Commission has made recommendations regarding changes and improvements.

“The establishment of the Commission and the mandate that it received underscore how determined we are to continue operating according to international standards. This is despite the fact that we must deal, in various spheres, with terrorist organizations that rudely trample on the principles of international law. Some of our enemies perpetrate two-fold war crimes, when they fire at civilian populations from inside civilian populations. Israel is fighting for its life but will do so – as much as possible – in accordance with the international rules.”

The panel, which was headed by retired High Court Justice Yaakov Turkel and which included two foreign observers, Brig. Gen. Ken Watkin of Canada and Lord David Trimble of Northern Ireland, concluded in its first report that the IDF acted in self-defense against the IHH terrorists on the Mavi Marmara boat.

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

The first 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.

The Commission also said that the blockade of Gaza does not violate international laws.

A UN report on the 2010 Gaza flotilla also said that Israel’s naval blockade on Hamas-controlled Gaza is indeed legal.

The UN committee, headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, was sharply critical of the IHH organization for sending the Marmara to Gaza and also of the Turkish government for its involvement in organizing the flotilla.

Despite the reports clearing Israel of any wrong-doing, Turkish leaders have cut off ties with the Jewish State and demanded an apology for the raid. Israeli leaders refused, saying Israel had acted in self-defense.

Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman emphasized in the past that while Israel is ready to solve any outstanding disputes with Turkey, it will not apologize to Ankara for the raid on the Mavi Marmara.