Israeli raid on aid flotilla had `serious defects`: Probe

The bloody raid by Israel`s naval commandos on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla last month suffered from "serious defects".

Updated: Jun 20, 2010, 20:06 PM IST

Jerusalem: The bloody raid by Israel`s
naval commandos on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla last month
suffered from "serious defects", including inadequate
preparation and lack of sufficient intelligence, an internal
probe has concluded.

The internal Israel Navy probe found that the commando
unit was inadequately prepared, lacked sufficient
intelligence, and was ill-used in its approach to the
Turkish-flagged ship Mavi Marmara, Israel Radio reported

However, it also concluded that the reaction of the
soldiers was appropriate as they did not expect a mass
offensive. It said due to the fact that a mass offensive
against Israel`s commandos 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 the Radio.

"In light of the situation that developed they acted
accordingly," he was quoted as saying.

Nine pro-Palestinian activists onboard the
Turkish-flagged ship were killed in clashes with the commandos
and dozens others wounded, including soldiers who were
allegedly attacked with knives and clubs on May 31.

The violence not only sparked international
condemnation of the operation, but led to demands for an
independent international inquiry.

Israel has separately formed an internal panel with
two foreign observers to look into the incident.

The Navy probe concluded that the raid on the ship
should have been conducted only 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 report said.

The navy said that it was prepared for "resistance
like we encounter in Bil`in (a West Bank Palestinian village),
but there wasn`t a sense that it would be a walk in the park."

"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," an officer said.

A top military commander involved in the raid told
Ha`aretz newspaer that "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."

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