Comptroller slams PM in flotilla report (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Yaron Druckman Latest Update: 06.13.12, 16:26)
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Despite being aware of risks posed by Gaza-bound flotilla ahead of
time, Israel´s leaders failed to follow decision-making protocols,
state comptroller writes
Israel´s leaders were well aware that the May 2010 Turkish flotilla
was unlike any previous attempt to breach the blockade on the Gaza
Strip, but failed to follow protocol in dealing with the unwonted
incident, according to a report released by State Comptroller Micha
Lindenstrauss on Wednesday.
In a document published on the eve of his resignation, Lindenstrauss
claims that he had found major fault with Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu´s decision-making process amid the flotilla events. The
leader failed to orchestrate a coordinated, orderly discussion over
the impending course of action; instead, he held private meetings
with the defense and foreign ministers – meetings that were not
In fact, aside from a discussion held by the so-called forum of seven
a few days before Netanyahu left for his north America visit, no
Cabinet meeting was called to discuss the impending flotilla. The
forum of seven, a group of senior Cabinet members headed by the prime
minister, has no constitutional basis.
The strategy, Lindenstrauss wrote, was put together hastily and in a
manner that did not follow the recommendations made by the Winograd
and Lipkin-Shahak commissions, which were formed following the Second
Lebanon War to examine the government´s decision-making process.
Intelligence amassed early
According to the report, intelligence about the flotilla began to
amass in early 2010, prompting then-IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi
Ashkenazi, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Strategic Affairs Minister
Moshe Ya´alon to urge Netanyahu to convene an integrative Cabinet
meeting on the matter. But despite the warning signs, the appropriate
bodies were not activated and no structured discussion was held prior
to the flotilla´s departure.
Moreover, the prime minister failed to hold a discussion that
included both the defense and the foreign minister – a dialogue that
could have yielded both a diplomatic and a political effort to
prevent the flotilla from leaving in the first place or bar it from
getting as far as it did.
Only on May 26, five days before the violent raid on the ship, did
the prime minister convene the forum of seven. Relevant officials,
including the justice and internal security ministers, were not
invited. The discussion generally was not in line with national
security decision-making protocols proffered by the abovementioned
The comptroller also found that the prime minister did not activate
the National Security Council to deal with the Gaza-bound flotilla;
the NSC, a subdivision of the Prime Minister´s Office, held its first
meeting on the matter as late as May 12. Requests by NSC officials to
be involved in the strategy discussions were shut down by the Defense
Ministry and the IDF.
Lindenstrauss asserts that the failure of IDF officials to attend a
meeting called by the NSC is a blatant disregard of the procedure
dictated by the Wingorad Commission. He branded the faulty conduct as
illegal and said it compromised the council´s ability to aid leaders
to make decisions.
´Force will certainly be used´
Lindernstrauss levels criticism at the defense minister as well,
claiming that he never examined the army´s preparedness to deal with
a violent response on the part of the ship´s passengers, despite
being aware that such a scenario could occur.
Over two weeks prior to the raid, Ashkenazi warned that a flotilla
debacle won´t be over quickly and advised Netanyahu to choose a
course of action that would prevent the flotilla from embarking on
"I have no doubt that force will be used," he said. "The people will
confront us. We would be deluded to think that if 20 people parachute
onto a ship of 400 passengers, they will get applause. The
(passengers) will fight."
According to the report, Netanyahu met with a top Egyptian official
on May 24 in an attempt to launch a diplomatic effort to stop the
flotilla from leaving. A day later, talks between Israeli leaders and
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan were held, mediated by a
The Turkish flotilla, aiming to break the Israeli maritime siege on
Gaza, neared the Strip´s shores on May 31. When the IDF´s repeated
calls to halt went unheeded by the Mavi Marmara and the five other
vessels in the fleet, Navy commandos descended onto the ship from a
helicopter. Met with violent resistance by its passengers, the
commandos killed nine men. International outrage and a diplomatic
rift with Turkey followed.
The comptroller noted that while his assertions are not enough to
conclusively indicate that the unfortunate outcome of the flotilla
could have been prevented had the decision-making protocols were
followed, the incident should serve as a lesson for the future.
Responding to the state comptroller´s findings, the Prime Minister´s
Office said that the defense establishment was not aware of the
magnitude of risks posed by the ship´s passengers.
"The defense establishment was not aware and could not have been
aware of how dangerous the flotilla passengers could be," the office
said. "It´s safe to assume that if the military echelon knew how
dangerous the participants would be, it would have prepared
differently and the flotilla´s outcome would have been different."
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday afternoon that the
State Comptroller´s report proved that IDF troops had committed
crimes against humanity.
"What happened on the Marmara… was out of bounds, the human mind
can´t comprehend it," Haniyeh said, calling for Israel´s leadership
to stand trial in the international court. (Copyright 2012 © Yedioth
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