An official Israeli commission of inquiry has cleared the country's military and government of wrongdoing in last year's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla -- despite international condemnation of the raid.
Israeli commandos stormed the flotilla which was trying to break Israel's naval blockade on Gaza, killing eight Turks, one Turkish-American and sparking international outrage.
Former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Yaakov Turkel, who headed the commission, said soldiers acted in self-defense.
He said flotilla activists wielding clubs and knives attacked the Israeli commandos, who used lethal force because their lives were in danger. He said the soldiers "acted professionally in the face of extensive and unanticipated violence."
The nearly 300-page report concluded Israel's enforcement of the Gaza blockade did not violate international law.
Turkel said Israel has the legal right to impose a naval blockade on Gaza to prevent weapons from reaching the ruling Palestinian militant group Hamas. He said that by trying to break the blockade, flotilla activists took the law into their own hands.
The findings of the Israeli commission differ sharply from a United Nations report last September that accused Israel of using excessive force in the flotilla raid and violating international law.
Turkey, which unofficially sponsored the flotilla, has described the Israeli raid as “state terrorism.” Responding to the findings of the Israeli inquiry, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said it was "appalled and dismayed."
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