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Israeli representative to the Palmer Commission Joseph Ciechanover Photo: Sivan Farag
Israeli representative to the Palmer Commission Joseph Ciechanover Photo: Sivan Farag
 
Mavi Marmara takeover (Archive) Photo: AP
Mavi Marmara takeover (Archive) Photo: AP
 
 

Palmer committee member: No use of excessive force

Israeli representative to Palmer Commission Joseph Ciechanover discusses reservations about flotilla report's conclusions, claiming committee 'did not sufficiently consider operational limitations'

Attila Somfalvi
Published: 09.03.11, 09:01 / Israel News

Israeli representative to the Palmer Commission Joseph Ciechanover has expressed Friday he has reservations about some of the conclusions of the United Nations' controversial report.

 

"Israel does not agree with the committee's depiction regarding the decision to board the ships, which they claim was 'excessive and unreasonable,'" remarked Ciechanover in a statement issued on his behalf by the Prime Minister's Office.

 

Palmer Report aftermath:

 

In his statement Ciechanover explained that "the committee was provided with evidence of repeated warnings given to the ships regarding the intent to board their decks."

 

He added that "Israel believes that the committee did not sufficiently consider the operational limitations, which determined the boarding process, including the need of an undercover takeover meant to minimize the risk of resistance once onboard."

 

As for the report's conclusions regarding the Navy commandoes' actions once they encountered resistance onboard the Mavi Marmara, Ciechanover stated "clearly it was a dangerous and real life-threatening situation."

 

Ciechanover said the committee members had mentioned that "the IDF forces encountered violent and organized resistance from a group of passengers once onboard the Marmara.

 

"The committee confirmed the fact that video clips showing the passengers wearing 'bullet-proof vests and holding iron rods, slingshots, chains and clubs' in fact 'supports reports of violence as told by IDF soldiers during the Israel investigation. The committee also substantiated that 'two soldiers were shot', 'three soldiers were caught, abused and were in danger' while 'seven soldiers were injured by the passengers, some of them severely injured.'"

 

In light of these circumstances, Ciechanover inferred that "the Israel soldiers clearly acted in self defense and reacted reasonably, proportionally and in a restrained manner, including use of non-lethal force when possible."

 

'Up to par with international law'

Ciechanover went on to say, in regards to the circumstances leading up to the death of nine passengers onboard the Marmara, that the committee "didn't adequately take into account the complexity of what was clearly a chaotic state of warfare."

 

"In such situations it's very difficult, and even impossible, to recount the exact chain of events. Given the face to face combat, which certainly took place onboard the vessel, short-range wounds do not necessarily point to a wrongful action conducted by the Israeli soldiers."

 

Ciechanover addressed the treatment of the flotilla activists, who were brought over to Israel after the Marmara takeover. He said the participants were treated properly and up to par with the standards of international law.

 

"Relaying on the statements of some of the passengers, as presented in the Turkish report as proof of wrong doings, is extremely problematic. Israel has expresses genuine doubts about the authenticity and credibility of some of these statements."

 

State adopts report

In another statement issued by the PM's office on Saturday, it said that the State of Israel has adopted the Palmer Report, with the exception of the reservations detailed by Ciechanover.

 

"The report, which deals with the flotilla incident of 31 May 2010 and has been adopted by the United Nations Secretary-General, is a professional, serious and comprehensive document," it read.

 

"The Palmer Report confirmed the legality of Israel's naval blockade of Gaza, and Israel's right to enforce the blockade, including in international waters. This naval blockade was put into place to prevent the smuggling of missiles and other weapons to Hamas, a terror organization which controls Gaza and is supported by Iran. Over the last few years, Hamas has fired over 10,000 rockets and mortar shells with the objective of striking Israeli civilian targets."

 

The official announcement further stated that "while enforcing the naval blockade, Israel has interdicted many vessels on their way to the Gaza Strip with no casualties. In the case of the Mavi Marmara flotilla, Israeli soldiers boarded the vessels with non-lethal means and with no intention of causing any harm. When they were brutally attacked by dozens of violent IHH activists armed with clubs, knives and steel pipes, the Israeli soldiers were forced to defend themselves. After many soldiers were injured during the operation, nine of the IHH members who were endangering IDF soldiers were killed."

 

As for the Turkish demand for a formal apology, the Israeli position remained as it was: "Israel once again expresses its regret over the loss of life, but will not apologize for its soldiers taking action to defend their lives. As any other state, Israel has the right to defend its civilians and soldiers."

 

"Israel cherishes the significant ties, past and present, between the Turkish and Jewish peoples. For that reason, the State of Israel has made numerous attempts in the last few months to settle the dispute between the two countries, but regrettably, these attempts have not been successful," it concluded.

 

 

 

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