Report slams Israeli PM over deadly flotilla raid

The cruise liner Mavi Marmara arrives at the port of Istanbul December 26, 2010 (Reuters/Osman Orsal)
The Israeli PM has come under criticism for his mal-management of a deadly raid on a Turkish flotilla in breach of the Gaza blockade in 2010. A new report claims Benjamin Netanyahu failed to follow protocol that could have averted the bloodshed.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss has released a long-awaited report regarding the political wrangling that eventually led to the raiding of Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara in 2010.

The decision-making process that led to the Israeli raiding of a Turkish ship in breach of the Gaza blockade was a shambles according to the report.

The document implies that had the incident been dealt with in the correct manner then some of the violence that ensued could have been avoided.

Israeli troops boarded the vessel as it tried to breach the Gaza blockades, killing nine of the armed activists on board. The incident drew international ire and condemnation of the Israeli use of “excessive force.”

Over the subsequent two years it has been the continuous source of a diplomatic rift between Israel and Turkey.

The report describes how no official cabinet meeting was called during the run-up to the deadly raid. Instead, PM Netanyahu, contrary to protocol, called private meetings with the defense and foreign ministers that were not documented.

"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," said Lindenstrauss in the report.

Despite having ample warning of the flotilla’s arrival the report underlines the fact that Netanyahu "did not internalize that the forcible stopping of the flotilla was liable to spark a violent confrontation on the decks of the Mavi Marmara."

Lindernstrauss also leveled criticism at Israel's defense minister. He said that although he was fully aware of the likelihood of violence if troops boarded the flotilla he failed to take any preventative action.

"I have no doubt that force will be used," he said. "The people will confront us. We would be deluded to think that if 20 people parachute on to a ship of 400 passengers, they will get applause,” said Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, two weeks prior to the raid. He urged Netanyahu to take preventative measures to stop the flotilla from leaving Turkey.

In response to the controversial report, the Israeli PM released a statement thanking Lindenstrauss for the document and said that "Israel's democratic process includes institutional mechanisms for independent oversight.”

"It's safe to assume that if the military echelon knew how dangerous the participants [in the flotilla] would be, it would have prepared differently and the flotilla's outcome would have been different," said the PM’s office. It added that the government had not been aware and “could not have been aware of how dangerous the flotilla passengers could be."

In April a Turkish court formally pressed charges against members of the Israeli military for the killing of nine Turkish activists aboard the flotilla in 2010, claiming they are answerable for "inciting to kill monstrously, and by torturing."