Flotilla mess blamed on 'bad plans'

Israeli navy commandos during the raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla in May, which resulted in nine dead Turkish activists. The IDF probe blamed poor intelligence and mistakes in the planning stages for the botched mission

Israeli navy commandos during the raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla in May, which resulted in nine dead Turkish activists. The IDF probe blamed poor intelligence and mistakes in the planning stages for the botched mission

Experts appointed by the military to investigate the IDF operation against the Gaza flotilla found a series of mistakes in the intelligence-gathering and planning stages of the mission.

But they praised the actions of the naval commandos who carried out the May raid on the Mavi Marmara, in which nine Turkish activists were killed.

The team, headed by reserve Major General Giora Eiland, was appointed by Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi a month ago to probe the military aspects of the operation.

Their report was handed to the General Staff on Monday. In a press briefing, Maj Gen Eiland said: "There were mistakes, also at the high military levels, but happily, they were not the result of negligence."

The criticism of the intelligence-gathering phase of the operation was directed both at the Intelligence Branch in the General Staff and the Naval Intelligence Department, which had failed to prioritise the flotilla as an intelligence target and failed to recognise the violent intentions of the IHH, the Islamic organisation which financed the flotilla and supplied most of the activists who were involved in the clash with the commandos.

The intelligence gap led to an assumption that the passengers of the Mavi Marmara would commit only sporadic violence, not present a concerted attempt to repel the boarders. There was no alternative plan in case the resistance was more serious than expected.

Maj Gen Eiland also criticised the fact that no-one had acted as "devil's advocate" during the planning phase.

Despite these flaws, Maj Gen Eiland praised the commandos, saying that they had used lethal force only in a selective manner, when their lives were in danger.

The first shot was fired by the IHH members, when they wounded a commando in his abdomen.

Maj Gen Eiland decided not to make any personal recommendations against the planners or the IDF generals responsible for the operation.

Last updated: 12:36pm, July 15 2010