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Israeli Report Slams Premier on Flotilla Raid (WSJ) WALL STREET JOURNAL) By JOSHUA MITNICK TEL AVIV, ISRAEL 06/14/12) Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303410404577464792092692520.html?mod=WSJ_World_LEFTSecondNews
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TEL AVIV—An Israeli inquiry into the deadly clash on a Turkish ship that challenged the blockade of Gaza two years ago lambasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as unprepared to handle potential violence, raising fresh questions here about whether the Israeli administration would use faulty planning to launch a lone strike on Iran.
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The 153-page report by Israeli State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss faulted Mr. Netanyahu for not holding formal consultations with national-security advisers or government ministers in the weeks leading up to the confrontation, and instead relying on ad hoc discussions and a vague military assessment that the army would be able to stop a flotilla with hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists before it reached Gaza.
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The report also criticized Defense Minister Ehud Barak for not reviewing the army´s preparedness for handling potential violence by the activists even though he had warned the prime minister of such a possibility.
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The clashes, which resulted in the deaths of nine activists who attacked Israeli navy commandos with clubs and rods as they boarded the Mavi Marmara cruise ship, accelerated the unraveling of the Israeli-Turkish strategic alliance and sparked a tide of international pressure that forced Israel to lift restrictions on imports to Gaza.
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Mr. Netanyahu´s office seemed to reject the state comptroller´s criticism, saying the Israeli leader should be judged by "unprecedented security in many years" and insisting that national- security discussions during his tenure have been "unprecedented in depth and scope."
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The report nonetheless pointed to "significant and substantive deficiencies" in Mr. Netanyahu´s decision-making process. It also said the criticism should be taken as a "lesson" that could be applied to "other future incidents, not necessarily the next flotilla."
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Military commentators said they interpreted that remark as a warning about Israeli decision-making on whether to order a pre-emptive strike against Iran´s nuclear program.
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In recent months, there has been a robust debate inside Israel about the wisdom of such a strike. The discussion was sparked by former Israeli spy chief Meir Dagan, who expressed concern that Messrs. Netanyahu and Barak may make a hasty decision on an attack by themselves. Other former security chiefs have also expressed reservations about a pre-emptive attack.
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"They know what they´re talking about. The report on the Marmara definitely sparks a red light" about potential decision making on Iran, said Knesset member Shlomo Molla, from the centrist Kadima Party.
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Mr. Netanyahu last year resisted Turkish demands to apologize and compensate relatives of the victims of the clash on the Mavi Marmara, prompting Ankara to expel Israel´s ambassador and ending the close military cooperation between the countries. Last month, a Turkish court issued an indictment against Israel´s former chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, and other top generals for ordering the attacks.
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Ankara continues to condition an upgrade in relations on the same demands and a lifting of the Gaza maritime blockade. A United Nations panel commissioned to review the incident found last year that Israel´s blockade and the decision to board the flotilla in international waters was legal. But it faulted Israeli soldiers for responding to the attacks with disproportionate force. (Copyright © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.) 06/14/12)
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