French ship Dignity 311.
(photo credit: IDF)
It is amazing what fear of a scathing State Comptroller report can sometimes do
in Israel. This was apparent on Tuesday by the way the military and political
echelon handled the operation to stop the tiny French yacht that tried breaking
Israel’s sea blockade over the Gaza Strip.
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IDF Chief of General Staff
Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz was in the Navy’s underground command center in the Kirya
overseeing the operation, OC Navy Vice-Admiral Eliezer Marom was at sea with the
forces and the IDF Spokesman’s Office was releasing blow-by-blow updates of the
operation accompanied with pictures and real-time videos.
that this had been the case in May 2010, when the government sent the Navy to
stop the Turkish flotilla and its lead ship – the Mavi Marmara
then-chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi was at home when the
operation began and was called to the Kirya when things got out of control.
Then, commandos from the Navy’s Flotilla 13 – better known as the Shayetet –
fast-roped down to the Mavi Marmara
with paintball guns.
On Tuesday, they
did not take any chances, coming armed and with snipers providing
In 2010, Netanyahu was out of the country during the botched Navy
raid and it took the IDF Spokesman’s Office some 10 hours to release video
footage, which showed that the commandos were attacked and not the other way
around. On Tuesday, Netanyahu was receiving regular updates from his military
secretary and the IDF was posting videos every few minutes on YouTube.
unfamiliar observer would be excused when thinking that all of this is a bit
exaggerated when considering that the Dignity
was carrying about 15 people,
whose identities were known to Israeli intelligence in advance and were at no
point really suspected of carrying weapons.
But this observer would be
forgetting that in just a few weeks, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss is
expected to release what some predict will be a scathing report of the political
and military echelons for the way they mishandled the last
Expected to come under fire in the report are Defense Minister
Ehud Barak for his reported refusal to cooperate with the Prime Minister’s
Office and the National Security Council ahead of the last flotilla; Netanyahu,
whose involvement in the decision-making process ahead of the last flotilla was
perceived as minimal at best; Ashkenazi; and even Marom, who commanded over last
year’s operation as well.
The smooth operation on Tuesday was a way for
the officials above to show Lindenstrauss that while there might have been
mistakes and failures last year, they have been studied and rectified. This was
likely done with the hope that Lindenstrauss will tone down his critique in
light of the improvements. We will have to wait and see.