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A panel investigating the navy's failure to prevent a missile attack that killed four sailors aboard the INS Hanit in the first week of the war in Lebanon has cited a major intelligence flaw, but decided against recommending sanctions against naval officers.
On Monday, the committee led by Brig.-Gen. (res.) Nir Maor presented findings from its investigation into the July 14 missile attack against the Hanit as it patrolled off the coast of Beirut to Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz. Four sailors were killed in the attack when an Iranian C-802 radar-guided missile struck the Sa'ar 5-class missile ship. The missile was made in China but underwent upgrades in Iran, from where it was then delivered to Hizbullah.
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Senior naval officers admitted at the time that they were taken by surprise, claiming that they did not know Hizbullah possessed such advanced capabilities, and as a result had deactivated the Barak missile defense system on the ship, which was capable of intercepting and destroying the missile.
The Hanit is Israel's most advanced missile ship and boasts an array of Harpoon and Barak antimissile missiles, along with a system for electronically jamming incoming missiles and other threats.
Maor presented the findings to Halutz but was ordered to continue with the investigation. Navy sources said Halutz was not satisfied with the findings presented to him on Monday and asked that additional work be done before presenting the final conclusions.
In the report, Maor found flaws in the transmission of intelligence information from Military Intelligence to Naval Intelligence and to the commanders of the missile ships.
Navy officials claimed that they did not have the information that would have enabled them to understand that Hizbullah was in possession of advanced anti-ship radar-guided missiles. Military Intelligence claims that the information was transmitted to the Navy three years ago.