JERUSALEM, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) — Israeli senior officials on Friday said Israel would not apologize to Turkey despite expulsion of its ambassador, addressing the UN Palmer report on the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) lethal raid of a Turkish vessel in May 2010.
“Israel, like any other country, has the legitimate right to defend its citizens and soldiers,” the government official said, ” Israel hopes a way will be found to overcome the disagreements, and will continue to work to achieve this goal,” according to local Ynet.
On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos raided a humanitarian aid flotilla, Mavi Marmara, heading for Gaza, killing nine Turkish nationals. The United Nations established an inquiry panel to examine the incident.
The official stressed that Israel would not apologize for its soldiers’ acts of self-defense, however, “regretted the loss of life.”
The UN report on the flotilla incident reportedly found that Israeli forces used “excessive and unreasonable force,” and emphasized that the loss of life on board the ship is ” unacceptable.” Moreover, it found that the treatment of the passengers by the IDF soldiers after the interception was “abusive. ”
“The report is a professional, serious, and extensive document, ” the Israeli official told Ynet. “The flotilla was a blatant attempt to break through the naval siege on Gaza. The Palmer Report ratifies the legality of the naval siege and Israel’s right to enforce it.”
The long-awaited report, expecting to be handed over to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday, declared that Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip was legal and appropriate, but that the raid of the flotilla was “excessive and unreasonable.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in Ankara on Friday that Turkish-Israeli diplomatic relations would be downgraded to the level of second-secretary, which means Turkey will recall its ambassador to Israel while Israel’s ambassador to Turkey will be required to return home.
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