Slapdash decision-making by the country’s senior political and defense officials
could leave Israel vulnerable to other threats, including from Iran, MK Uri
Ariel (National Union), who chairs the Knesset’s State Control Committee, warned
Ariel made his comments during a special session of the
committee called in the wake of a harsh report by State Comptroller Micha
Lindenstrauss on the high-level decision-making that led to the May 2010 Mavi
Marmara flotilla incident.
Israeli naval commandos boarded the vessel to
prevent it from breaching the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Activists on board
attacked the commandos and nine Turkish men, including one who also had US
citizenship, were killed.
Lindenstrauss found that the government’s
decision-making had been uncoordinated and haphazard.
Ariel said he
planned to invite Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud
Barak to discuss the report’s findings with regard to current plans for
addressing the threat to Israel posed by Iran’s nuclear
Referring to Lindenstrauss’s lengthy flotilla audit, Ariel said
that in the case of the Iranian nuclear program the state comptroller “wouldn’t
have the privilege of investigating failures after the fact.”
Wednesday, the Prime Minister’s Office said in response to the report that
Israelis were enjoying a level of security they have not known for years, and
that this was a “direct result of responsible management and determined
However, as Thursday’s meeting opened, Ariel dubbed the report’s
findings “disturbing” in light of the challenges facing the country and added
that the flotilla had caused Israel far-reaching political damage with
Ron Israel, a representative of the State Comptroller’s Office,
said the prime minister failed to hold joint meetings with the relevant parties
ahead of the flotilla to discuss the issue.
MK Arieh Eldad (National
Union) also criticized the prime minister by saying Netanyahu had completely
disregarded the law by leaving the National Security Council out of the
decision- making process.
Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin (Likud)
said, however, that the prime minister had acted properly in the run-up to the
According to Begin, Netanyahu held many security-related
meetings and provided opportunities for the NSC and intelligence officials to
express their opinions. During those meetings, he added, Lt.-Gen.
Gabi Ashkenazi, at the time chief of staff, raised the possibility that Mavi
Marmara passengers might use force against the IDF.
Begin, who is a
member of the security cabinet, the so-called septet, admitted that serious
mistakes had been made in the runup to the raid.
“We were wrong about the
flotilla,” he said. “If the expectations about the operation had been consistent
with the outcome, we would have prepared differently.”
criticism that the prime minister had not called for any staff work on the
flotilla, Begin said that even the best staff work did not necessarily prevent
errors. He added that the onus for the mistakes was on the government and that
he had no complaints against Ashkenazi or the troops who seized the
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, who heads the National Security
Council, dubbed the body the “new kid on the block” and said more time was
needed to integrate it into the policymaking framework.
“Things are much
better than before, and the current situation is much better than it was at the
time of the flotilla,” Amidror said.
Referring to criticism by
Lindenstrauss that the IDF had delayed the release of footage from the navy’s
takeover of the ship, Ariel demanded an explanation from the deputy IDF
spokesman, Col. Shai Stern. Stern had no answer but said the IDF had greatly
improved its technological capabilities for public diplomacy since the flotilla.