A group of 10 Navy reserve officers who served as patrol boat commanders sent a harsh letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday in which they urge the establishment of an independent inquiry commission into the flotilla raid events.
"We believe the operation ended in a military and political disaster," the letter noted. The officers said they disagreed with claims of an intelligence or a PR failure as they believe the whole operation was doomed from the beginning.
"Most of all, we protest the fact that the responsibility for the disaster was immediately placed on the sail's organizers," the letter noted, suggesting that the commanding ranks and decision makers were the ones primarily responsible for the debacle. "We regard this as contempt for professionalism, battle morals and human life."
The officers demanded the establishment of an independent inquiry commission which would hold a thorough examination of the raid. "We believe this is the best way to restore trust in the Navy command and decision makers," the letter stated.
The officers were bewildered at the level of risk the Navy fighters were put under. "We were dumbfounded at the dismal outcome of civilians' deaths and injuries. There is no shred of doubt in our minds that had a less trained and disciplined force been sent, the number of casualties would have been much greater, and therefore wish to express our appreciation of the combat forces.
"Nevertheless, we feel serious tactical mistakes in judgment and the use of force were made, primarily the inability to aptly characterize the mission while bearing in mind a civil vessel was being targeted."
The officers stated that based on their experience as vessel commanders other ways could have been employed to stop the flotilla. "The MO which was exercised included a high level of friction which we feel was unnecessary, regardless of the type of resistance discovered upon the raid."
'Not endorsing disobedience'
One of the officers, Major Nir Barak told Ynet, "We have a lot of experience in this field. The letter was thought up out of a feelings of discomfort, mainly at the subsequent events and the defense minister and Navy command's failure to take responsibility.
"We believe mistakes were made by the security establishment's higher echelons which need to be addressed. We are not endorsing disobedience or draft-dodging but think one can show support for the forces and demand an examination at the same time."
Major Barak stressed that the criticism is not directed at the soldiers but at the higher echelons which initiated and led the operation. "We think that the Navy command could have better prepared itself for this operation. The event was a military failure and there are questions which need to be answered."