Israeli report criticizes Netanyahu government over flotilla raid

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on May 7, 2012. (Photo: EPA)

June 13, 2012, Wednesday/ 12:46:00

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision making was badly flawed as he oversaw a deadly naval raid on a Gaza-bound ship two years ago, according to a government report released on Wednesday.

“Substantive and significant deficiencies were discovered in the decision-making process … that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led and oversaw,” State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss wrote in the 153-page report.

“The prime minister’s decision-making process took place without orderly, coordinated and documented team work, even though the senior political, military and intelligence ranks were aware that the Turkish flotilla was different from other flotillas,” it said. Netanyahu, the report continued, “did not internalize that the forcible stopping of the flotilla was liable to spark a violent confrontation on the decks of the Mavi Marmara.”

Netanyahu has argued that Israel behaved responsibly in its handling of the affair and praised the performance of his troops. “Israeli citizens enjoy a level of security they did not have for many years,” Netanyahu said in response to the report, calling that “a direct result of responsible administration and resolute policy.”

Israeli daily Haaretz reported that in response to the comptroller’s report, Netanyahu’s office said the Israeli prime minister had received messages from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan which implied that the latter hinted he would stop the flotilla, though he failed to do so. “The prime minister acted intensively through diplomatic channels, primarily with Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan, in order to stop the flotilla,” Netanyahu’s office reportedly said. “Efforts led to a high feasibility that the flotilla would be stopped.”

The office’s statement added that “despite the impression he conveyed,” Erdoğan did not stop the flotilla in the end and that Netanyahu “was made aware of that fact with only a week’s notice before the flotilla set sail.”

Relations between Israel and Turkey were seriously damaged after the May 31, 2010 Israeli military raid of the Mavi Marmara, which was carrying humanitarian aid. The raid led to the death of nine activists on board the ship -- eight Turks and one Turkish American.

Ankara wants an official apology from Israel for the raid and calls for an end to the Gaza blockade, but both demands have been rejected by the Israeli government. With tensions increased, Turkey has expelled the Israeli ambassador and suspended all military agreements it had with the country.

Turkish diplomats, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Today’s Zaman that foreign ministry has not made any assessment of the report yet.