In testimony, Israeli PM says Turkey was looking for a fight aboard bloody Gaza-bound ship

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Israel's prime minister defended the deadly commando raid on an international flotilla protesting the Gaza blockade before an internal inquiry commission Monday, suggesting that Turkey had sought the violent confrontation on the high seas.

Benjamin Netanyahu told the commission that Ankara had rejected Israel's prior appeals to halt the flotilla and refused to intervene despite the prospect of violence between Israeli troops and the Turkish Islamic charity that organized the mission.

"As we got closer to the date it became clear our diplomatic efforts would not stop it," Netanyahu said. "Apparently the government of Turkey did not see potential friction between Turkish activists and Israel as something that goes against its interests."

The six-ship flotilla was trying to deliver aid to Gaza when it was intercepted by Israeli naval commandos enforcing the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the seaside strip. When troops encountered unexpected resistance on one of the vessels, the Mavi Marmara, they opened fire and killed nine Turkish activists, one of them a dual American citizen.

The bloody crackdown sparked wide international outcry and pressured Israel to loosen the blockade of Gaza, imposed with Egypt after Hamas militants seized control of the coastal territory in June 2007....

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