Barak accepts responsibility for raid on Gaza aid flotilla

Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday said he took “overall” responsibility for the deadly raid on the Gaza aid flotilla which resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists. However, he pointed the finger of blame at the military for the execution of the internationally condemned operation.

Giving evidence on the second day of hearings held by the Turkel commission, the state-appointed panel investigating the operation, Mr. Barak said: “I carry overall responsibility for everything that took place in the systems under my command. I carry responsibility for the orders given on the political level.”

However, he drew a distinction between political responsibility and the execution of the operation. “The politicians determined the ‘what' and the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] worked out the ‘how' — and the IDF carried out the operation.” The military did not inform politicians about the details of the operational plan, said Mr. Barak. “They said, ‘It will be difficult to do it, but we will do it.' They did not say how it should be done, and rightfully so. They said there would be distressing images but they did not say it couldn't be done, and they even said the opposite.”

He added: “If the decision was right, then the gap between what we wanted and what happened is the execution.” Mr. Barak, who has a long record of military service, told the hearing he had spent most of his life in operations.

“The difference between success and complications is as thin as a strand of hair. Here, the goal of stopping the sail was achieved.” Mr. Barak said Israel's inner Cabinet had considered the military aspects of the operation. This was in contrast to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's testimony on Monday, in which he said his inner Cabinet, known as the group of seven, had only discussed public relations issues.

— © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2010

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