Israel Navy Probe of Gaza Flotilla Raid Finds 'Planning and Intel Flaws'

Investigation concludes that commando reaction was appropriate as the soldiers did not expect a mass offensive, lacked sufficient intelligence.

Haaretz Service
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Haaretz Service

The Israel Navy's internal probe into its deadly commando raid of a humanitarian aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip has found serious defects in the planning and intelligence aspects of the operation, Israel Radio reported on Sunday.

One of the ships of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla that was intercepted by the IDF enters the port of Ashdod.Credit: Eli Hershkovitz

The internal Israel Navy probe concluded that the commando unit that embarked on the May 31 raid of the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara was inadequately prepared and lacked sufficient intelligence when approaching the activists.

The probe concluded that due to the fact that a mass offensive against Israel's commando officers was not taken into account, the officers acted accordingly under the circumstances.

"The soldiers wanted to wear their ceremonial uniform, they expected to engage with the passengers in conversation, and that was a defect," a military official told Israel Radio. "In light of the situation that developed they acted accordingly."

The soldiers inquired during the investigation into the reason they lacked intelligence information of the fact that the passengers on board the Turkish-flagged aid ship were preparing an attack.

The investigation concluded that the raid on the ship should have only been conducted after hosing the attackers down with water hoses and smoke grenade.

"Operation Sky Winds 7," the Navy commandos operation to takeover the ship, was carried out according to standard operating procedures established during a 'mock exercise' with more than 50 soldiers.

The navy admitted that they were prepared for "resistance like we encounter in Bil'in, but there wasn't a sense that it would be a walk in the park," an officer said, adding that there was a general consensus of a need for greater mental preparation of the force before the operation's execution as not enough emphasis was placed on preparing for every possible contingency.

'The major defect in the preparations and gathering of intelligence was that we did not know that we would be coping with tens of rioters," the top military commander involved in the attack told Haaretz.

"This was not disorderly conduct that deteriorated," he said, "This was a planned terrorist attack."

Another commander involved in the attack said that "I still awake at three A.M. every morning and ask myself: Damn it, how did we not know more?"

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