IDF probe considers Turkey intel needs

“No agency currently collects intelligence on terrorists in Turkey.”

By
June 14, 2010 04:19
3 minute read.
Weapons from 'Mavi Marmara.'

Weapons from Mavi Marmara 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The internal IDF inquiry into the Navy’s raid on the international aid flotilla that was stopped two weeks ago will investigate the intelligence flaws that led to the operation’s outcome and will likely submit recommendations regarding Israeli efforts to collect intelligence on terror organizations in Turkey, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Last week, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi appointed former head of the National Security Council Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland to head an internal military probe into the Navy’s operation to stop the flotilla.

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During the boarding of the Turkish passenger ship Mavi Marmara, Navy commandos from Flotilla 13 – known as the Shayetet – killed nine passengers who had brutally attacked them and who the IDF said were mercenaries.

According to senior officers, the probe will focus on four main issues. The first is whether the Shayetet was the right unit to carry out such an operation. The second relates to the tactical level, including the way the ship was boarded – navy commandos fast-roped onto the ships from helicopters – and whether there were other viable alternatives for stopping the flotilla. The third issue pertains to the internal military decision-making process leading up to the operation, and the fourth deals with intelligence matters.

“No agency in Israel, including the Mossad, currently collects intelligence on terror organizations in Turkey,” a senior defense official said on Sunday.

“One question that will need to come up is whether this should remain the case or whether this needs to change.”



According to the official, there are other reasons, in addition to the flotilla and the Turkish government’s suspected involvement in financing the mercenaries, to possibly begin turning Israeli intelligence agencies’ focus to terror organizations in Turkey.

“There is a radical process sweeping throughout Turkey right now,” the official said. “It is important to understand where things are heading there and how this will affect Israel.”

Ashkenazi said on Sunday that while the IDF was probing the operation, he had no doubt that the navy commandos operated appropriately when boarding the Mavi Marmara.

“The struggle between the commandos and the terrorists on the ship is part of a continued effort to delegitimize Israel,” Ashkenazi said.

Meanwhile Sunday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak canceled plans to travel to Paris to open the Israeli pavilion at the Eurosatory defense expo.

His office said that Barak decided to remain in Israel while the government establishes a committee to investigate the raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla.

Barak was supposed to meet high-ranking French officials, including French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Defense Minister Herve Morin.

Pro-Palestinian activists had threatened to try to bring charges against Barak and other Israeli officials under the principle of universal jurisdiction. This principle allows the prosecution of suspected war criminals in countries that have no direct connection with the events.

In addition, former navy commander and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Ami Ayalon called on Barak to “accept responsibility for the consequences of the decision to raid [last week’s Gaza-bound] flotilla.”

Speaking on Israel Radio, Ayalon said the government showed “poor decision making” and that “the blockade became the policy objective instead of the means to achieve the objective.”

He criticized Barak for spearheading Israel’s strongarm policy without regard for the need for international support.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to the report.


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