Gov't on flotilla: We won't be surprised this time

Learning lessons from last year's ‘Mavi Marmara,’ gov’t invests resources to gather info on who and what are on flotilla ships sailing to Gaza.

By
June 29, 2011 01:19
2 minute read.
A lack of prior intelligence.

mavi marmara weapons 311. (photo credit: IDF)

Israel has invested significant “intelligence assets” into assessing who and what is on the vessels that are expected to sail soon for the Gaza Strip, so that “this time Israel won’t be surprised,” diplomatic officials said on Tuesday.

The officials said the government internalized lessons learned from both the Eiland and Turkel committees, which looked into the handling of last year’s Mavi Marmara flotilla, and found that Israel was surprised by the level and type of resistance it came up against.

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Last year, Turkey was a main center for those organizing the flotilla, but Ankara – under a great deal of pressure from a number of different countries – stepped back this year, forcing the organizers to try to launch from Greece.

One official said the Greeks were strictly adhering to regulations regarding insurance and the issuing of permits to the vessels.

While Athens may not forbid the ships to sail from Greek ports, as Cyprus has done, “going by the book” has caused the organizers delay and considerable uncertainty.

Even with the concern that some of the activists aboard the vessels had less than peaceful intentions, diplomatic officials noted with some satisfaction that while the organizers originally spoke of some 1,500 activists intent on setting sail, in the end it appears about one-fourth of that number will try to break the Gaza blockade.

One senior Foreign Ministry official said this was due in part to the diplomatic pressure for countries to do what they could to dissuade their citizens from participating, something a number of countries did by issuing official warnings.

Also on Tuesday, the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Ministry held a drill with government and military spokespeople about how to get Israel’s message across on the Internet in real time if the flotilla turns violent and there are casualties.


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