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Netanyahu Praises Israeli Troops Who Raided Gaza-Bound Flotilla

Israeli soldiers raid a ship as the navy intercepts a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in the Mediterranean Sea, 31 May 2010

Israel's prime minister has praised the naval commandos who participated in the deadly May raid on a Gaza-bound ship, saying they acted "heroically," "ethically" and "with restraint."

Benjamin Netanyahu told the men during a visit to their base in northern Israel on Tuesday that they had acted in an attempt to stop people "who sought to kill" them.

He said the raid was "necessary" and "legal," adding that he believed Gaza had become a "terror base" of Israel's archrival, Iran.

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.

Turkey has demanded that Israel apologize for the incident.

Mr. Netanyahu's visit to the base comes a day after Israel's opposition leader said Turkey exploited the "provocation" that led Israeli commandos to raid a Turkish ship attempting to break a sea blockade of Gaza.

Tzipi Livni said 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.

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