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Livni: Turkey Exploited 'Political Vacuum' with Flotilla Incident


An Israeli opposition leader says Turkey exploited the "provocation" that led Israeli commandos to raid a Turkish ship attempting to break a sea blockade of Gaza.

Tzipi Livni said Monday before an Israeli committee investigating the deadly May raid that Turkey used the lack of a peace process between Israelis and Palestinians to heighten anti-Israeli sentiments. She said Turkey's support of the flotilla aimed to stir sympathetic backing for the militant group Hamas that rules Gaza.

Livni served as foreign minister when Israel first imposed the Gaza blockade in 2007.

Eight Turkish activists and one Turkish-American were killed when the Mavi Marmara tried to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza.

Israel says its forces acted in self-defense, but the action drew wide condemnation.

An Aug 2010 file photo of Israel's military chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi before testifying in front of a state-appointed inquiry commission into the naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, Jerusalem, 24 Oct 2010

An Aug 2010 file photo of Israel's military chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi before testifying in front of a state-appointed inquiry commission into the naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, Jerusalem, 24 Oct 2010

Two Arab-Israeli men who were onboard the flotilla at the time of the raid also testified Monday. They said they did not see the violence because they were below deck when the raid occurred.

Turkey has demanded that Israel apologize for the incident.

On Sunday, Israel's Defense Force Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi told the committee his soldiers acted in a restrained manner despite being at risk.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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