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Israeli Military: We Did Nothing Wrong with Gaza Flotilla

The pitfalls of allowing an organization to investigate itself became clear today when the Israeli military cleared the Israeli military of wrongdoing in the murder of nine Turks in the Gaza flotilla incident.

An Israeli military investigation into its naval takeover of a Gaza-bound flotilla six weeks ago found that it was plagued by errors of planning, intelligence and coordination but the killings of nine Turks on board were justified, according to an official summary of the findings released Monday.

Giora Eiland, a retired major general who led the probe, handed his classified findings to the military chief of staff; they were not released to the public. But a statement issued by the military said that the investigators faulted the military for not knowing who was on board one of the ships. A senior military officer involved in the report said that at least 65 Turkish Islamic militants armed with metal sticks and knives were on the main ship, and had vowed to fight any effort by the Israeli Navy to board. The scuffles that ensued led to Israeli commandos shooting the nine Turks, including one with dual American citizenship.

And here I thought that the Israeli military would find fault with themselves! Well, they would know best, better close this case.

The report only criticizes the handling of the incident on grounds of intelligence gathering and coordination. In other words, the IDF had no idea who they were shooting, but they were justified in shooting them.

A second inter-Israeli probe is being led by a retired Israeli Supreme Court justice, but they have just begun their investigation. Surely this whitewash of a report will renew calls for an international probe, but I doubt that will come to pass.

This continues to be a he-said/she-said incident:

Mr. Eiland’s report found that there was at least one gun on board because an Israeli soldier took a bullet in the knee that was not from an Israeli weapon. It also contends that Israeli soldiers most likely fired only after having been fired upon first.

“All the shooting was either when the soldiers were in immediate danger of their lives or when they had to rescue fellow soldiers,” a senior official involved in the probe said, speaking under military rules of anonymity. He added that there were between four and six events in which Israeli soldiers were fired upon with live fire by those on board.

Passengers aboard the flotilla have mostly told a very different story, with some witnesses accusing the commandos of shooting randomly as they came aboard.

Such discrepancies demand an unbiased investigation, but that’s not what we’re getting, at least not so far.

Meanwhile, even Fox News is jumping off the Israeli propaganda train. When the flotilla investigation not led and directed by Israel starts, wake me.

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David Dayen

David Dayen