Army inquiry slams flotilla raid's planning
IDF inquiry's draft report on lethal flotilla raid does not single out any military officials but offers extensive criticism; operation's planners clung to false conception, did not prepare alternatives in case of major violence on board ships, report says
The ill-fated flotilla raid that left nine passengers dead stemmed from a complacent IDF conception that was not thoroughly examined, according to the draft report produced by the IDF's committee looking into the incident.
The investigative team, headed by IDF Major-General (res.) Giora EIland did not single out any military officials in its report and did not include personal recommendations against commanders or combat soldiers, Ynet learned.
The report creates the impression that military planners clung to a conception whereby troops sent to take over the Mavi Marmara would encounter the kind of low-level violence seen on previous ships, in the form of shoving, punches, spiting, and cursing.
While Navy commandoes were equipped with weapons for self-defense purposes, the possibility that they would need to use them was deemed unlikely; hence, the army did not prepare an alternative takeover plan in case of major violence on board the Turkish vessel.
Members of the investigative team concluded that the failures leading up to the raid could be classified into three general categories:
- Mishaps in the various intelligence channels involved in planning and executing the raid, and a failure to integrate Navy intelligence information, research, and other intelligence sources.
- Planning that did not make use of all resources that would have allowed the army to refrain from employing firearms, and the failure to prepare alternate modes of action in case of unexpected complications.
- Lack of coordination between the forces involved in the raid.
The main conclusions have been presented to IDF officials involved in the efforts to halt the flotilla. They were asked to submit their responses for inclusion in the final draft of the report.
The final report will likely not include one important conclusion reached by Eiland. The chief investigator apparently believes that had officials taken the flotilla and its possible consequences more seriously, the raid's complications could have been avoided.
However, this conclusion will not appear in the report because Eiland's mandate includes only the IDF's conduct.
The major-general believes that had the government taken preventative political measures while the flotilla was still being organized, its departure may have been prevented or, barring this the public and political damage it caused could have been minimized.
The Security Cabinet could have made an effort to ease restrictions on goods entering Gaza, thus pre-empting the flotilla's aims, Eiland concluded. In exchange, the government could have asked for European support in preventing the sail.
But in order to bring about such a solution, the government should have consulted with security officials months in advance, the major-general said.
Eiland made remarks to the same effect two weeks ago, during a speech at the Institute for National Security Studies.
"When we wait for an incident to happen, the number of responses is limited. However, if we prepare several months in advance, the range of possibilities at our disposal becomes wider," he said.
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