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Israeli Army Chief Backs Use Of Live Ammo On Gaza Flotilla

Israeli army chief Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi (file photo)
Israeli armed forces chief Gabi Ashkenazi has defended his troops' use of lethal fire when they stormed a Gaza-bound Turkish aid flotilla in May, killing nine pro-Palestinian activists.

Giving sworn testimony to a five-member Israeli commission of inquiry, Ashkenazi said the naval commandos who rappelled onto the ship deck where the deadly clash took place had opened fire only after a soldier was shot by one of the activists.

The commission, which is joined by two international observers, is mandated to examine the international legality of the raid and the blockade of the Hamas-run territory.

An Israeli army inquiry has already acknowledged that there were "errors" in the planning and execution of the operation.

Separate investigations are being carried out by the United Nations and Turkey.

compiled from agency reports