VIDEO - An IDF report on the Lebanon war incident in which the Hanit Navy ship was struck by an Iranian missile launched by Hizbullah terrorists reveals that the crew did not act sufficiently in order to anticipate the threat.
Brig. General (Res.) Nir Maor, who conducted the probe, handed in the complete report on Sunday.
The IDF report, which was submitted to Chief of Staff Dan Halutz Tuesday afternoon, said, "as far as the intelligence picture is concerned, it was found that despite the lack of pinpoint information about the weapon in the hands of Hizbullah, there was information in the Navy in the past that could have lead to some type of an assessment that the enemy holds shore-to-ship missiles." In addition, failures were uncovered in "the way the forces understood the operative reality and implemented it."
The incident occured on July 14, 2006 during the fighting in Lebanon; the ship was struck by an Iranian missile launched from the Lebanese shore by Hizbullah. The vessel was hit near its landing pad, located in the aft part of the vessel.
Four Israeli sailors were killed in the attack, and a fire that broke out caused major damage.
The report further indicates "inadequate culture" on the ship. The report reveals a strong example of this as one of the officers on the ship decided about one hour prior to the incident to switch off some of the ship's defense systems without notifying the commander of the vessel.
Navy Chief Maj.-Gen. David Ben Ba'ashat said this was a major problem that must be dealt with, but added that the fact that the Navy's general assessment indicated there was no missile threat explains why the officer acted the way he did.
Once the ship was hit, the report says, it was unclear for a long time what had caused the strike and the rescue of the injured sailors took a particularly long time.
Ben Ba'ashat explained that two other ships that were in the area identified the missile launch as an IAF aircraft, and concludes that even if the systems were operating, the hit would have occurred.
Possibility of missile attack raised morning of attack
It is important to mention that even though the attack could not have been avoided, it is possible that things could have ended differently. Despite the fact there were fragments of information about the existence of the C-802 missile in the hands of Hizbullah, the assessment in the Navy was that the threat of a missile attack was "imaginary and unfounded". Ben Ba'ashat said that the number one problem was ‘awareness.’
The possibility that Hizbullah holds these kinds of missiles was brought up back in 2003, and even during the morning before the attack one of the officers raised the possibility of Hizbullah holding the missile. Despite this, there was no real evidence of that and when the ships left for their missions, the threat was thought to be imaginary and unfounded.
One of the lessons learned was creating an "organizational memory" to avoid instances where fragments of information get lost in the mix. It was also decided that the Navy will hold discussions which also raise different perspectives, even if they are initially received as imaginary and unfounded.
'You have no idea'
Another failure which was discovered was a malfunction in one of the ships central radars used to identify aircraft and missiles. The malfunction did not shut down the system, but the staff chose not to report that to the commander of the vessel in order for him to make the final decision. It is important to say that if such a malfunction is discovered before a mission, the ship would have never left the dock.
So far, the report does not include recommendations for personal action against any officers, both on the ship and in the senior command of the Navy. Nobody has yet to take any responsibility for the incident.
The first one to announce the attack was Hizbullah Chief Hassan Nasrallah. "You wanted an all-out war – and that is what you will get. You have no idea who you are dealing with," he said at the time.
In a speech delivered by phone to the Al-Manar television station, Nasrallah wanted to uplift the spirit of his men and told them of one of the "surprises" he promised to deliver was occurring. He said that ‘a ship which was firing at the Shiite quarter of Beirut is on fire and is going to sink.’