Israeli panel criticises PM over flotilla raid
JERUSALEM ISRAEL’S state watchdog on on Wednesday criticised 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 sixship 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 onceclose 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 summarised, 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 decisionmaking 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.”