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Israeli DM testifies before Gaza flotilla probe committee

08-10-2010 17:29 BJT

JERUSALEM, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak testified before the Turkel committee Tuesday morning, saying he bears his responsibilities as the army leader.

Barak told the committee, an investigation panel into Israeli navy's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in late May, that he takes the responsibilities for the military side of dealing with the flotilla operation.

Entering the Rabin Guest House with a big smile, the defense minister mentioned several times the responsibilities and cooperation between the Prime Minister Office and his establishment.

The political level decides "what" and the military decides " how," he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the committee on Monday that Barak was the man in charge during the flotilla incident, as the premier was in a visit to North America. Though Netanyahu's office clarified later in the day that the prime minister still takes the overall responsibility, local media still portrays Netanyahu as shifting accountabilities to the defense minister.

The Turkel Committee, a commission of inquiry approved by Israeli cabinet on June 14, was formed to investigate the May 31 commando raid aboard the Gaza-bound aid flotilla, which ended in the deaths of nine foreign nationals, and the legality of the continued maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip.

As the army is widely criticized by Israeli public that its operation on the flotilla lacked of intelligent preparation, Barak said during the hearing that a military operation can never have enough intelligence.

The Turkel Committee starts its first round of inquiring of Israeli high officials this week, and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi is slated to testify before the committee on Wednesday.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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