Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Israel blames poor planning and intelligence mistakes for flotilla disaster.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the first Israeli report into the storming of the Mavi Marmara finds that what happened was the result of "mistakes", although the report concludes that there was no other way of preventing the ship from getting to Gaza.

The report, which was not published in full, did not name individuals responsible for the failures. "On the one hand, there were no wrongdoings and no negligences in any fundamental areas during a complicated and complex operation," said Giora Eiland, the retired Israeli general who headed the military inquiry.

"But on the other hand, there were mistakes that were made in decisions, including some taken at relatively high levels, which meant that the result was not as had been initially anticipated."

So, no names, just a general admission that "mistakes" had been made whilst emphasising that there was no other option other than the one which the Israelis engaged in.
Tonight the Palestine Solidarity Campaign said the report attempted "to whitewash the Israeli military's crimes on the Mavi Marmara", the main ship in the flotilla, on which all nine deaths occurred.
The report does though highlight one important point.

Mistakes were made at all levels, including underestimating the strength and nature of the Mavi Marmara activists' resistance, and a lack of preparation.

According to a statement from the Israel Defence Force (IDF), "not all possible intelligence gathering methods were fully implemented and the coordination between Navy Intelligence and the Israel Defence Intelligence was insufficient."

It added: "On the day of the incident, decision makers were not presented with alternative operational courses of action other than a full boarding of the flotilla."

The first point is tedious, an insistence that the decision makers did not fully comprehend just how fanatical the people they were dealing with were.

The second point is much nearer the most important point; why was the ship boarded in the first place?

There were clearly alternatives which were not properly considered.
Civilian experts told the pilot that with a relatively simple maneuver using a cable between two patrol boats, and stretching it at the right time, it would be possible to immobilize a ship the size of the Marmara.

The reservist did not give up until he found a former head of the navy. In his amazement, the navy man told him that ideas like his had been discussed in the navy, but were shelved "because they were successful only in 50 percent of the cases." In other words, if they had tried the cable maneuver twice or more with the Marmara, the chances for success would have been high. And this does not mean they would have had to abandon any of the other alternatives, including the one that was eventually selected.
The truth is that there were other options available which were simply not properly considered.

And, in one of the most important pieces of the report, it concludes that the peace activists probably fired first. What proof are we offered to back up this conclusion?
He determined - and in the international arena this is important - that the Turks fired first, apparently from weapons they later threw overboard.
So, I take it from this that the Israelis can produce no weapons which were used against them, merely the contention that, as they don't exist, they must have been thrown overboard. This stinks of a whitewash.

But, when the Israeli military are asked to investigate themselves, one can hardly be surprised that they find "mistakes" have been made but that ultimately they had no real option other than to do what they did.
And yet it is hard to align the harsh findings with the soft recommendations. Armed with a scalpel and kid gloves, Eiland chose his words carfully. There are mistakes; there are no guilty parties.
And those dastardly peace activists fired first and then disposed of their weapons overboard. The report might seem harsh to some, but it is not simply in it's conclusion that it is being overly kind.

Click here for full article.

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