Military, Politicos Blame Each Other for Botched Gaza Flotilla Raid

The politicians look at the bungled raid and see the cause in the operation's planning - in the Navy and faulty intelligence. The General Staff says it was Netanyahu and Barak who assessed the raid wouldn't raise such world reactions.

Tensions are mounting between military and political leaders over the raid on the Turkish aid ship Mavi Marmara. Each side suspects the other of trying to blame it for the bungled operation and consequent crisis.

The kind of inquiry panel into the affair has not been decided, but the debates about it are upping tensions among the top defense and political echelons. Apparently, the favored idea is to set up a civilian, rather than a military, inquiry - with the possible participation of a foreign observer.

Gaza flotilla
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The politicians look at the bungled raid and see the cause in the operation's planning - in the Navy and faulty intelligence - so the naval commando lacked a proper understanding of the kind of confrontation awaiting the soldiers on deck.

The General Staff, however, says it was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak who were complacent about the flotilla and assessed that the raid would not raise such world reactions. It appears that the debate in the seven ministers' forum was relatively superficial and did not go into the operation's details. Netanyahu was in Canada during the raid and cut his visit short following the international flaying brought on by the incident.

It has become obvious that cooperation among the various groups preparing for the flotilla's arrival was deficient. The Israel Navy and General Staff held dozens of advance meetings over weeks, but virtually none involved other relevant offices like the Foreign Ministry or government public relations experts.

Due to the restricted involvement, the IDF led the preparations not only for the operation itself but for all aspects. Israel Navy commander Admiral Eliezer Marom and the navy drafted the operation with the participation of Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and his deputy, Major General Benny Gantz.

The insufficient intelligence for the operation is renewing the grumbles between the IDF leadership and the Mossad. The IDF says the espionage agency did not properly use its resources in gathering intelligence about the flotilla.

The General Staff's intelligence section will examine the possibility that intelligence that could have improved the Navy's preparation for taking over the ships was "stuck in the pipes" and did not reach the Navy in time.

The Israel Navy is defending the raid's operative plan and claims it provided adequate solutions even to the unexpected circumstances on board. However, criticism of the operation in the IDF is increasing.

Senior officers said over the weekend it is important to distinguish between the combatants' bravery and their exemplary performance during the takeover and the intelligence and operational plan. Officers have slammed the absence of the element of surprise and the decision to raid six ships simultaneously, which prevented concentrating a larger force on the Mavi Marmara.

By way of comparison, the navy on Saturday took over the Gaza-bound Irish ship Rachel Corrie in the Mediterranean Sea. Commandos boarded the ship, encountering no resistance, and towed it to Ashdod port.