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PM Netanyahu: Shayetet 13 commandos acted ‘heroically’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ,left, and Israel's military chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, second right, visit Israeli naval commandos who participated in a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla last May, in Atlit naval base, northern Israel Tuesday,Oct. 26. 2010. Israel's leader has paid a special visit to a military base in northern Israel to praise the naval commandos who participated in a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla last May.(Getty Images / AP Photos/Dan Balilty, Pool)

October 26, 2010 (KATAKAMI / JPOST) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a special visit to the Atlit military base in northern Israel on Tuesday, to praise the Shayetet 13 commandos who participated in Israel’s Naval interception of the Mavi Marmara last May.

“Gaza has become an Iranian terror base — very close and very dangerous,” Netanyahu told the fighters. The raid was “vital, imperative, important and legal,” he added.

Facing a deadly threat, “you responded professionally, heroically, with restraint and ethically.”

After Netanyahu delivered his remarks, he met privately with some of the commandos on the base, including one who is still recovering from injuries sustained when activists seized him and threw onto a lower deck. Gidi Schmerling, Netanyahu’s spokesman, said the commando told Netanyahu he sought to return to active duty.

He was among four commandos wounded in the operation who met with Netanyahu.

Addressing the commandos who had been wounded, the prime minister said, “I am happy to see those who were injured, and I salute you all. You acted in the name of the State of Israel.”

The commandos violently clashed with pro-Palestinian activists on one of the Gaza-bound ships, resulting in nine fatalities. Both sides have accused the other of sparking the violence.

At the end of his comments, Netanyahu thanked Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi who accompanied him on the tour, and said the Shayetet 13 fighters proved the IDF chief’s determination during his four years in the position.

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