Barak Plays Down Israeli Worries About Gaza Flotilla

Political and military leaders are in fact more worried about the implications of the state comptroller's report on the raid on 2010's Gaza flotilla, a draft of which was recently submitted to senior officials.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has been trying to turn down the flame on the violent predictions for the Gaza aid flotilla, some of which were fueled this week by the defense establishment itself.

Barak told Channel 2 news on Wednesday night that while he has directed the Israel Defense Forces to stop the flotilla by force, if necessary, he believed that while pockets of resistance were possible the flotilla participants this year would be less violent than last year's.

But political and military leaders are in fact more worried about the 2010 flotilla than the imminent one.

More precisely, they fear the implications of state comptroller's report on the raid, the draft of which was recently submitted to the relevant senior officials.

Despite tendentious leaks to the contrary, the main target of State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss is not Barak, although he does come in for criticism (including for his refusal to cooperate with the National Security Council ).

So will former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, for his absence from the war room during the naval raid.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is directly in Lindenstrauss' sights, for his insufficient level of involvement in the planning and decision-making stages. It will be extremely uncomfortable for the very thorough and professional Israel Navy commander, Adm. Eliezer Marom, if he is raked over the coals by Lindenstrauss on the eve of retirement.

The general staff's intelligence department will also be rebuked for being under-engaged in preparing for the last flotilla.

Given these circumstances it is understandable that even a reduced flotilla, sans Turks and facing numerous technical problems, is causing such hysteria here. The clearest example was the conduct of the Prime Minister's Bureau this week: After weeks of preparation, and with the IDF Spokesman's Office laboring mightily (unlike last year ) to brief the news media, came the stupid threat to bar journalists who report from the flotilla from entering Israel for 10 years.

Netanyahu, whose inner circle authored the idea, was quick to disown it in the face of criticism.

Netanyahu's remark from Monday about the flotilla posing a minimal risk was contradicted by IDF statements about the presence of flammable chemicals on board at least one vessel.

Military Intelligence and the navy clearly don't want to be blamed in the event of a bloodbath.