Army chief talks tough
Photo: Yigal Buzaglo

Army chief: We have right to impose siege

Israel has 'natural right' to inspect ships heading to Gaza, army chief says, stresses Strip must not turn into Iranian port; addressing lethal raid on Turkish ship, Ashkenazi says: I salute fighters, they operated exceptionally well

The Gaza Strip must not be allowed to turn into an Iranian port, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said Tuesday.


Speaking at the hesder yeshiva in the northern town of Kiryat Shmona, the army chief said that Israel has a "natural right to carry inspections and prevent the flow of weapons to Gaza."


"If anyone is bothered by the situation in the Strip and wishes to transfer medical equipment to Gaza, he should go ahead and arrive at the Ashdod Port," Ashkenazi said. "We'll inspect him, and if needed we'll let him in."


"We must insist on this right; Gaza must not turn into an Iranian port," he said. "This is not just a matter of threatening the Gaza region. Missiles that can hit other areas may end up there too."


'It wasn't a simple situation'

Turning his attention to the lethal raid on Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, the army chief only had words of praise for Navy commandoes who carried out the operation.


"I salute the fighters. They operated exceptionally well," he said. "Based on initial debriefings, and given the circumstances, they operated incredibly well…it wasn't a simple situation, and they responded properly."


Turning his attention to future Gaza-bound flotillas, Ashkenazy said: "If a flotilla arrives from Lebanon, we'll be able to handle it; if they come in peace, they will be handled accordingly. If not, they will be handled as they should be handled."


On Tuesday, the army chief also awarded some Navy commandoes with citations for other operations they took part in.


פרסום ראשון: 06.22.10, 20:25
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