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Israeli Defense Minister Defends Raid on Gaza Flotilla

Israel's defense minister defended the government's decision to storm a Turkish aid ship trying to breach Israel's Gaza blockade, saying it was the right move despite the ensuing bloodshed.

Ehud Barak testified Tuesday before an Israeli panel investigating the May 31 raid in which Israeli commandos killed nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists.

Barak said the Gaza-bound aid flotilla was a "planned provocation."

The defense minister told the panel the decision to stop the flotilla was made only after senior officials examined other options. He said the Israeli government anticipated violence when considering its response.

Evrin Bunn of VOA Turkish Service discusses Turkish perspective on U.N. Gaza flotilla inquiry:

Barak's defense comes amid Israeli threats to pull out of a United Nations inquiry investigating the flotilla raid due to begin Tuesday. Israel is protesting after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there is no arrangement preventing the panel from questioning Israeli soldiers.

Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli inquiry that the military action was justified.

The prime minister also said Turkey rejected Israeli appeals to halt the flotilla.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.