Gaza flotilla raid was lawful, Netanyahu tells inquiry
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that Israel acted lawfully in its commando raid on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza, when he testified before an Israeli inquiry into the incident on Monday. Nine Turkish activists were killed when Israeli soldiers stormed the six ships as they attempted to break the blockade on Gaza.
"I am convinced that at the end of your investigation, it will become clear that the state of Israel and the IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] acted in accordance with international law," Netanyahu told the Tirkel Commission as he began testifying about the raid.
The session is expected to continue into Monday afternoon, with some of Netanyahu's testimony taking place behind closed doors.
The prime minister is the first of three top officials due to give sworn testimony at the commission. Defence Minister Ehud Barak will take the stand on Tuesday, followed by Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi on Wednesday.
Israel says its commandos resorted to force only after they were attacked when they rappelled onto the deck of the Turkish passenger ferry Mavi Marmara. But the activists on board say troops opened fire as soon as they landed.
The raid caused a diplomatic crisis between Israel and Turkey and sparked global calls for an inquiry - prompting Netanyahu's government to set up the Tirkel Commission to look into the legality of the operation.
Panel members are not authorised to probe the decision-making process which led up to the operation, nor do they have the authority to question troops involved in storming the boats.
Last week UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon named his own panel to investigate the incident, which includes representatives from Israel and Turkey and is set to begin work on Tuesday.
Turkey is carrying out its own inquiry, and is reportedly looking to make a criminal case
against Netanyahu, Barak and Ashkenazi, charging them with piracy and murder.