"I don’t think we've done anything wrong," said N., a Navy combatant who was involved in the raid on the Mavi Marmara in 2010. "We did the right thing. I'm not ashamed of it and we have nothing to apologize for."
"This apology doesn't imply anything," N., who sustained injuries in the raid, added. "It's meant to promote reconciliation. On a personal level there's no need for apologies, but on a national perspective… it seems like the right thing to do."
Turkey to try top IDF officers over Marmara raid
A former combat soldier with the Navy told Ynet he was ambivalent about the apology. "On the one hand, there's something very unfair in this – when you're in battle, you fight. And we did nothing wrong. But on the other hand, maybe it's time to end this saga."
As for the decision to compensate the families of the Turkish citizens who were killed in the raid, many Navy soldiers were outraged, saying that IDF soldiers who sustained injuries in the incident have yet to be compensated.
Former Navy commander Eliezer Marom, who was the commanding officer of the 2010 raid told Ynet he was against the Israeli apology. "We must back IDF soldiers. If you start apologizing for combat errors, where will it end? An IDF soldier must be backed.
"I ask myself how this may affect the soldiers," Marom added, that's what bothers me."
"I might be joining politics soon," the former commander admitted, noting that he was aware of "the prime minister's right to make such a decision – to sacrifice support for the soldiers in order to advance national interests that mean nothing."
Legal proceedings against Marom are expected to be stricken once the reconciliation comes into effect.
IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz, on the other hand, deflected such criticism on Sunday.
In a tour taken along with President Shimon Peres on Sunday morning at the Central Benjamin Brigade, Gantz said that “the subject of the reconciliation agreement with Turkey is very important.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he decided to apologize mostly because of the events going on in Syria, and Gantz supported this saying, “It is right to recall what happened in the past. To learn and take lessons, but not to be like Lot’s wife who turned around and looked back and went blind; instead we must look forward for the interests of Israel, especially when you look toward the northern front and Syria."
"It was good that the prime minister took action to further relations with Turkey," Gantz emphasized. "It will have a positive effect on our defense and strategic interests.”
Former foreign minister and the no. 2 man in the Likud-Beiteinu Avigdor Lieberman leveled criticism after the apology was publicized, calling it a “horrible mistake.” His criticism was joined by families of soldiers from the flotilla.
In a general response to the criticisms, Gantz said, “There are some who are misunderstanding this decision in regards to our support of the IDF. I completely support every IDF soldier, anywhere, anytime and with all the power, in that he will act professionally and with a sense of values."
Peres, Gantz and IDF soldiers (Photo: Yoav Zitun)
In regard to the event itself, Gantz said that “in the action of the flotilla and the Marmara , there are operational lessons to be drawn, but this was an operational action with values. Any other army would have carried it out with many more casualties. Soldiers of the flotilla used minimal strength and performed a necessary action well."
"I personally know the flotilla commander and he has my complete faith regarding what they did in the past, and what they will do in the future," Gantz said. "They also take into proportion the difference between talk and between the need to be strategic.”
Peres added, “We cannot change the past, this is an essential reconciliation. There is a difference between Turkey and Iran. Iran wants to destroy Israel and Turkey has no oath of this sort. Both Israel and Turkey want a peaceful Middle East, without shortages and without poverty. What took place now releases us to take care of the future."
Roi Kais contributed to this report
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