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)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

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.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


RELATED:
Flotilla faces serious delays, might sail only next week
'There is no crisis in Gaza, flotilla is mere provocation'
IDF: Some flotilla activists planning to kill soldiers

This time, the officials said, there are people whose jobs it is to ascertain who and what is going on the ships.

The officials’ comments came after security and diplomatic personnel said on Sunday that radical elements had hidden chemicals such as sulfur to be used against IDF soldiers if they try to interdict the flotilla.

In addition, officials said that there was growing concern that “hard-core” Islamic activists were intermingling with passengers on the ships who are believed to be genuinely nonviolent, and would use these passengers if necessary as “protective shields.”

In last year’s flotilla of six ships, the “hard-core” Islamic activists were concentrated on the Mavi Marmara, and were not on the other vessels. If they now “intermingle” with the passengers on the other vessels, this would “create special operational challenges” for the IDF, the official said.



Government officials said it was easier to obtain information about the ships and the passengers this time because the Greek authorities, who have come out strongly against the flotilla, have been much more cooperative than the Turkish authorities were last year.

Click for full Jpost coverage


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.

Related Content

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
August 31, 2014
Prime minister to Channel 1: I’ll be running again in next election

By Gil Stern Stern HOFFMAN