Bereaved dad wants state probe of Shayetet-13 disaster

Petitioners claim that IDF has hidden facts of 1997 incident in which 11 naval commando soldiers were killed in Hizbullah ambush.

shayetet 13 (photo credit: IDF)
shayetet 13
(photo credit: IDF)
The father of one of the naval commandos killed in a Hizbullah ambush on the Lebanese coast in September 1997 petitioned the High Court of Justice on Thursday, demanding to see all the documents related to the disaster and calling on the government to establish a state commission of inquiry to investigate the affair, preferably headed by former Supreme Court president Meir Shamgar.
The petition was filed by attorney Shmuel Saadia on behalf of Moshe Rodovsky, whose son Gal was among 11 fighters who were killed immediately after landing on the beach. The other four men in the force were wounded and evacuated.
In the petition, Saadia wrote that his client has felt ever since that the army has stonewalled him.
“The bereaved families, including the petitioner, felt that there was a whitewashing and concealing of the true facts regarding the operational and intelligence failures of the action,” he wrote. “Furthermore, most regretfully, the military authorities regarded the families as “enemies,” and concealment, disinformation, evasion of responsibility and lack of cooperation were all the petitioner received in his attempt to find out, honestly and fairly, what the true facts were.”
Rodovsky called on the court to order the state to hand over all material and documents related to the affair, the decisions to establish investigative committees – four in all – and the reasons for establishing them, the conclusions of the investigations and the testimony of the witnesses at these investigations.
The bereaved father also wanted to know all the ranks of the commanders involved in the action, what need was there for it, its aims, the operational assessments regarding the plan, the intelligence assessments, how the operation was conducted, the assessments of the operation to extricate the wounded and the way the investigative committees were appointed and how they functioned.
Rodovsky explained that he had always been suspicious of how the operation was carried out, but that a recent statement by the head of Hizbullah, Hassan Nasrallah, had confirmed these suspicions.
In a recent speech, Nasrallah said his forces had obtained photographs taken by IDF drones of the landing area and had learned exactly where the landing would take place.
“The drones repeatedly photographed the landing area,” Saadia wrote in the petition.
“Their frequency immediately enabled the enemy to understand where the soldiers would arrive. Shockingly, the drones broadcast openly, without a code and anyone could pick these broadcasts up.”
Rodovsky also charged that the commandos’ radio communication was uncoded, that the communications of a patrol boat operating off the coast was uncoded and that an IDF plane flying above the landing area made a great deal of noise. He also charged that the rescue team was inexperienced and improperly trained.
He said he also came to understand that the operation itself was unnecessary and that its aims were not clear.
The army established four different committees to investigate the incident but all the parents received was an abbreviated version of a report by the Military Advocate-General’s Office stating that “the communications were faulty and the rescue operation was both faulty and extremely poor[ly carried out].”