The team of military experts appointed to investigate the IDF operation against the Gaza flotilla found a series of mistakes in the intelligence-gathering and planning stages of the mission.
However, 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. The task was to conduct a probe into all the military aspects of the operation and the team’s report was handed to the General Staff on Monday.
In a press briefing, Maj Gen Eiland said that “There were mistakes, also at the high military levels, but happily, they were not the result of negligence”.
The criticism on 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 intentions of the IHH, the Islamic organisation which financed the flotilla and supplied most of the activists who were involved in the violent clash with the commandos.
According to Maj Gen Eiland, there was a “shortage in assessment” of the IHH and its aims.
The lack of intelligence led to an assumption that the passengers of the Mavi Marmara would commit only sporadic violence, not present a concerted attempt to repulse the boarders.
In the event, fozens of men attacked the commandos with axes, metal clubs and knives and at least in a few cases, guns.
The operation’s planners did not prepare any 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, who wounded one of the first commandos to land on the boat in his abdomen.
Maj Gen Eiland decided not to reach any personal conclusions against the planners or the IDF generals who were responsible for the operation.