Elharar: Entire cabinet, not just PM, must be ready for flotillas, wars

Comptroller had slammed poor briefings before ‘Marmara’ raid.

Activists aboard a flotilla to Gaza. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Activists aboard a flotilla to Gaza.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Not only the prime minister, but the entire cabinet must be properly prepared by the National Security Council for future flotillas and wars, Knesset State Control Committee chairman Karin Elharar said on Wednesday.
At a meeting considering the implications of failed planning processes leading up to the May 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla, Elharar and MK Ofer Shelah, both from Yesh Atid, and MK Eyal Ben-Reuven, from the Zionist Union, all expressed serious doubt as to whether the NSC was doing that job properly.
During the 2010 flotilla raid, Turkish IHH activists attacked Israel Navy commandos; 10 IHH activists eventually died.
Turkey and portions of the international community vilified Israel and the IDF over the incident for years, though the UN’s Palmer Report and Israel’s Turkel Commission Report cleared Israel of most of the criticism on a legal level.
However, a 2012 State Comptroller’s Report slammed the government, the NSC, the Defense Ministry and the IDF for lack of coordination and for failing to prepare the cabinet for the possibility of violence on the flotilla’s vessels.
Elharar said that even though the IDF successfully stopped this week’s flotilla from breaking the Gaza blockade without any similar altercations, the emphasis needed to be on whether cabinet ministers, who “are the busiest of people,” are getting all necessary explanations from the NSC “to understand and internalize all of the information and its significance.”
Shelah came right out and said that during his time in the governing coalition in 2013 to 2015, the NSC did not properly prepare cabinet ministers for major strategic issues facing the country.
The cabinet received only one real serious presentation from the NSC, in March 2014, regarding security challenges from the Gaza Strip, he said.
This meant, said Shelah, that when the July-August 2014 Gaza war started, the cabinet was not prepared for a variety of security challenges.
One challenge that many cabinet ministers complained they had not been prepared for was Hamas’s attack tunnels.
Directing his attention toward a possible fight with Hezbollah in Lebanon or terrorist groups in Syria, Reuven added that “the state comptroller should follow the state’s preparation for future confrontation on the northern front, and about preparedness of all the system’s pieces in light of past lessons.”
Responding to the concern, Deputy NSC Head for Security Eran Lerman said, “there has been a substantial improvement in the state’s and its operational arms’ preparations for all strategic scenarios.”
He continued that the NSC now presents the cabinet members with “all of the significance and the full range of alternatives for taking an action, as well as recommendations.”
After Lerman described making PowerPoint presentations to the cabinet, Elharar followed up with the question as to whether the NSC sufficed with mere PowerPoint presentations or whether it followed up with individual members of the cabinet to determine their needs.
Lerman did not answer directly although he said the NSC understood that ministers who did not lead an office that was part of the security establishment might need more information.