British Army expert: "Blame flotilla for deaths"

Colonel Richard Kemp

Colonel Richard Kemp

The former commander of British forces in Afghanistan has said Israeli troops should not be blamed for the deaths of activists on the Gaza-bound flotilla.

Speaking on behalf of the Israel Project, an international non-profit education organisation, Colonel Richard Kemp said: “We should not forget that none of these deaths would have occurred if the people on the ships had not attacked the Israelis.

“It’s wrong to blame the Israeli soldiers for the deaths. The flotilla must shoulder the blame for this.”

Col Kemp said the IDF “went in bending over backwards to show they did not want to offer violence on the ship. There was a hardcore of people [on the flotilla] intent on causing violence.

“There appears to be no doubt that the people involved have contacts to terrorists. That does no necessarily make them terrorists themselves.”

He admitted Israel could have taken alternative courses of action, either by using a warship to head off the flotilla or by attempting to disable the ships. Either option, he said, could have led to more deaths.

“Once they made the decision to stop the boats going to Gaza it is very difficult to see how else Israel could have done it.

“Israel must learn the lessons from this and they should be as transparent as they can be about the outcome of any inquiry.”

Last updated: 12:36pm, June 3 2010