MIDEAST > Watchdog criticises Israel PM over flotilla raid

JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse

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Israel's state watchdog on Wednesday criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his handling of a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla that left nine Turks dead and ties with Ankara in shreds.
In a 153-page report, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss slammed the decision-making process which led to the botched pre-dawn raid on the six-ship flotilla on May 31, 2010, which was headed by the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ferry carrying more than 600 people.

The maritime assault triggered an international outcry and a lingering diplomatic crisis between once-close allies Israel and Turkey, with Ankara demanding a formal apology and compensation for the families of the victims.
"In the process of decision-making, which was led by the prime minister and under his responsibility, regarding the handling of the (flotilla), there were significant shortcomings," Lindenstrauss wrote in the report.

Netanyahu, it said, had not held any structured, formal discussion with top ministers about the flotilla, and had only held separate talks on the issue with Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, none of which were properly documented.
"The prime minister did not order integrative staff work regarding the necessary policy to deal with the flotilla, instead there were personal, separate meetings, between the prime minister and the defence minister, and between the prime minister and the foreign minister, which were not documented or summarized, and there was no discussion between the prime minister and any group of ministers," the report said.

"The only discussion that took place on the issue was in the Forum of Seven just before the flotilla arrived, an 'ad-hoc' discussion without any preparation," it said, referring to Netanyahu's inner circle of senior ministers, which now numbers nine.
"The process of decision-making was done without orderly, agreed-upon, coordinated and documented staff work, despite the recognition of the senior political echelon and IDF (Israel Defence Forces) chiefs, intelligence bodies and the National Security Council on the exceptional nature of the Turkish flotilla compared to previous flotillas," it said.
Although Barak and then chief-of-staff Gabi Ashkenazi had raised fears the activists could be armed, nothing was done to plan a suitable response, it said.
"The defence minister and chief of staff raised fears during May 2010 over a violent reaction, including the use of arms by passengers" but it was not clear that Barak had "checked or examined the army's preparedness to deal with dangerous actions by passengers, despite the fact that he himself pointing out the possibility," the report said.
"The defence minister did not discuss ways of dealing with risks that emerged in consultations he himself held, including the risks he noted." Responding to the report, the premier's office issued a statement defending its record on managing issues of state security, saying Israel was enjoying a level of security not seen "for many years." "This security is the direct result of responsible management and determined policy. The security discussions that have been held over the past three years have been unprecedented in their scope and depth, as attested to by those who have participated in them," it said.
It also referred to a UN report on the flotilla, published last year, which endorsed the legality of Israel's naval blockade on Gaza, while chiding the Jewish state for using "excessive force" in preventing its arrival.
National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror said it was not clear that handling the flotilla raid differently would have ensured a better result, but that the process of decision-making had improved greatly since then.
"The State Comptroller himself says that he is not at all sure that there is a link between a different process and better results," he said, adding that the authorities had better handled subsequent attempts by pro-Palestinian activists to reach Gaza and the West Bank.

"The result in these was different. If one looks at all these events, one understands that the decision-making process is much, much better," he said, indicating they were managed with "an orderly decision-making process." Barak also responded to the report, pledging to implement the necessary changes.

"Defence Minister Ehud Barak accepts the criticism and will work... to ensure the military and defence establishment will fix all that needs to be fixed," a statement from his office said.
"That's what should be done and that is what will be done." But commentators were quick to put the report by the outgoing-comptroller into a wider context.
"The most important thing is the comptroller's legacy," said Israel public radio's Hanan Crystal.
"What he's really saying here is 'Don't take decisions on Iran in the same manner, there you should have organised decision-taking'."


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Notice on comments

Turk down under

6/15/2012 11:05:11 AM

Chas: The comments by Danny B that I just mentioned were on a different article - "50 aid groups demand Israel lift Gaza blockade" My mix up. please refer to that article to make sense of my comment. Apologies

Turk down under

6/15/2012 10:53:02 AM

Chas: You read Danny B's comments. All the reasons are there, and all are fact. There is no denial from Hamas. How would you like your kids being fired upon at their schools & kindergartens? On a daily basis!!! Israels actions toward Gaza are Re-actions. I'm not immune to the suffering of Gazans but I lay more blame with Hamas for that suffering & I think you'll find that a lot of Gazans seem to do so now, but you know what happens if you go against Hamas, same as if you go against Assad. True?

Chas Spencer

6/14/2012 5:49:40 PM

@Turk/d/u- Please tell us what the Israelis go thru daily,they, if they want to work they all have jobs- Lets look at what the Palestinians go thru, Settlers grab the few acrews of land they have and they become beggars in their own Land, if they resist the are "Terrorist & spend couple of years in Detention Centers without charges, some comparisson PM erdogan is no different than any other world politician. Wake Up Turk, please don't cry crocofile Tears! O.K.?

Turk down under

6/14/2012 4:14:09 PM

Chas: I understand where you're coming from also from some others who don't understand why I don't follow the present mindset. I am looking at the bigger picture & what ordinary Israeli's have to go through on daily basis. I'm also seeing a Turkish PM who says one thing & does another (& an Israeli one for that matter). I think he has incited hatred to an extent (along with his FM. I love my country but am not blind to its faults.

Chas Spencer

6/14/2012 1:13:26 PM

@TURK Down Under- You, like everyone else have rights to your opinion, You don't like PM Erdogan or object to Religeon, again it's you right! But when you abandon reason and make common couse with obvios Fanatic in need of Help, as is obvious by many reader responses, people question your sincerety & Judgment. Stop and think, that fellows mindset is; "Right or Wrong, it is my Country and all others be damned" You're trowing out the babby with the bath water! Selam, Shalom & Peace to you!

Chas Spencer

6/14/2012 12:46:32 PM

@TURK downunder, thanks for the complement, I personally have not experience from a Jewsh person and have no ill will towards Jewws. , I'm not a Turk, Ever since Sharon has been in officeIsraeli leaders have humiliated Turkey in eyes of Islamic world; Invasion of AlAqsa,restrictic prayers, fire there, IDF-AF trained in TR airspace but Israel won;t sell a fully usable telescope for Turky's Satelite or drones,it trained PKK in N-Iraq. Erdogan reacted to insult with Mavi M, Israel with Murder!!!?

Turk down under

6/14/2012 10:49:44 AM

Chas: I think for the most part you try to be fair and your research skills are incredible and impress me, as long as you know that the info you get is verified and not twisted. Anyone can write anything on the net- those are the hazards. To all who think I'm not Turkish or think i've been away too long:-You are wrong on both accounts. I express my opinion whether popular or not -

Turk down under

6/14/2012 10:39:35 AM

Turk Uzan My point was that the other aid ships did not act with provocation, they were led to Ashdod port where they should have gone in the firstplace. They got through and so did the aid aboard their ships. Some of the guys on MM acted like hooligans and I'm not happy that those men lost their lives but they were confontational .You said they were scared? What, Turks scared? Not the Turks I know! Chas: No white washing-just how I see it Ilker:Erdogan is suppose to be a statesman ?? Diplomacy?

ilker avni

6/14/2012 1:53:34 AM

If i was a israeli or american i would be very worried,since it only took three men to make the decision to stop the floatillar at any costs.what will they do when it comes to IRAN?, will they inform the rest of the goverment, or tell their American allies. Israel has become a law unto itself and a liablity for its allies.

ilker avni

6/14/2012 1:42:48 AM

@ Turk down under I think you have forgotton that the imprisonment of one Million and Seven Hundred Thousand Gazans is ilegal,the purpose of the floatilar was to carry aid to these poor people,Your israeli FRENDS thought otherwise and killed nine unarmed Turkish peace activists of whome several had several bullet shots to the head,how YOU or anybody can justify this crime in international waters,and for you to blame Erdogan is beyond me as a TURK.All i can say is u been downunder to Long.
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