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Analysis: Not quite a whitewash, but close

    The Eiland report held few surprises. One does not have to be a military expert to understand that only patchy intelligence and faulty planning could have led to a situation where a small group of commandos landed one-by-one into a violent mob holding paint-guns.

    So what else is new? The report praised the commandos, saying they used lethal force only when their lives were in danger. But medals for fighters in the field are usually awarded to cover the screw-ups of those who sent them into battle.

    Giora Eiland, one of the most seasoned operations chiefs the IDF has produced, did a professional job in analysing those mess-ups - the lack of coordination between the intelligence branches, the gaping holes in their assessments, the misguided assumptions which led to an operational plan without any fallbacks. But none of this was translated to personal recommendations concerning the military planners.

    Maj Gen Eiland's bottom line is that these were operational mistakes, regrettable but understandable. This is the kind of thing that happens in an army which carries out hundreds of operations every year. The general does not believe that it should lead to resignations.

    The IDF probe was limited to the military aspects of the operation, but Maj Gen Eiland hinted that questions should be asked about the political and diplomatic handling of the affair. That will be the business of the Turkel Commission and the State Comptroller - both of whom may prove much, much less understanding.

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