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Turkey president lays into Israel flotilla inquiry

Associated Press
FILE - This file image made from video provided by the Israeli Defence Force on Monday, May 31, 2010 shows what the IDF says is one of several commandos being dropped onto the Mavi Marmara ship by helicopter in the Mediterranean Sea. An Israeli inquiry commission is defending the actions of its troops during last year's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound protest flotilla sailing from Turkey. The nearly 300-page reported released Sunday Jan. 23, 2011 by the government-appointed commission says the actions of the soldiers "were found to be legal pursuant to the rules of international law."   (AP Photo/Israel Defence Force, File)  AP HAS NO WAY OF INDEPENDENTLY VERIFYING THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE VIDEO PROVIDED BY THE ISRAELI DEFENCE FORCE
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Turkey's president on Monday lambasted an Israeli inquiry that cleared its military and government of any wrongdoing in a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound international flotilla as having "no value or credibility."

President Abdullah Gul said the findings illustrate "Israel's spoiled attitude, that has no regard for the world or for international law."

Nine pro-Palestinian activists — eight Turkish citizens, and a Turkish American — were killed when Israeli commandos boarded a ship in the flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, on May 31.

An Israeli panel that investigated the raid said Sunday that the armed defense of Israel's maritime blockade of the Hamas-ruled coastal strip was justified under international law. Turkey condemned the report Sunday, saying it was "surprised, appalled and dismayed."

President Abdullah Gul added his voice to the criticism on Monday.

"What Israel did has nothing to do with international law. This is Israel's own document and it has no value or credibility in terms of international law," he told reporters.

The Islamic aid group, IHH, which organized the flotilla campaign also denounced the report on Monday, saying the panel's findings were pre-ordered by the Israeli government.

"With this so-called report, this report created on orders, with this disinformation, they have, in a way, agreed that they are guilty," IHH president Bulent Yildirim, who was among activists on board the Mavi Marmara, told reporters.

The Israeli commando raid sparked a wave of international condemnation and lead to an easing of Israel's blockade on the coastal territory.

The raid further damaged already strained relations with Turkey, formerly one of Israel's closest allies. Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel and is demanding an apology and compensation for the victims before ties can return to normal.

The nearly 300-page report echoed Israel's earlier military investigation that faulted the planning and execution of the operation. Even so, it said the blockade of Gaza and the raid were legal and justified.

An official Turkish commission investigating the incident denounced Israel's findings Sunday, saying the blockade amounted to illegal "collective punishment" of Gaza's 1.5 million people." It also accused Israel of using unnecessary and excessive force.

Both soldiers and activists involved in the raid have said they acted in self-defense.

Israel ordered the official inquiry two weeks after the incident.

The commission, headed by retired Israeli Supreme Court justice Jacob Turkel, included four Israeli members and two international observers — David Trimble, a Nobel peace laureate from Northern Ireland, and Brig. Gen. Ken Watkin, Canada's former chief military prosecutor. All signed off on the conclusions.

A fifth Israeli participant, 93-year-old international law expert Shabtai Rosenne, died during the deliberations.

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