"There were political courses of action available."
By JPOST.COM STAFF
Maj.-Gen Giora Eiland said it was possible to prevent the May 31 flotilla to Gaza by political means, speaking in an interview with Reshet Bet Friday."Three months before the flotilla there were many courses of action which could have prevented it," said Eiland, head of a military commission charged with conducting an internal investigation of the Gaza-bound flotilla, which was boarded by Israeli commandos and left nine Turkish citizens dead.RELATED:Eiland: Army didn't have a 'Plan B'Navy braces for Lebanese flotillaEiland suggested Israel "could have opened the Gaza crossings in advance, before the Turkish flotilla." The crossings were expanded to allow more aid to go through, but this was only done in the wake of international pressure after the flotilla.The general also said Israel knew in advance about the changing political winds in Turkey and tightening ties with the IHH, the organization behind the flotilla. However, he thought this only strengthened Israel's resolve to continue with the predicted course of events, which led to the boarding of the Mavi Marmara, flagship of the flotilla.The Eiland Commission's report concluded that a series of operational and intelligence mistakes led to the raid in late May aboard the Mavi Marmara.The 100 page report listed a number of “mistakes” that had been made in the planning stage of the operation. Eiland, a former head of the IDF’s Planning Division and the National Security Council, said that he did not find any negligence in the planning and implementation of the operation. He also made it clear that there was a difference between “operational failures” and “operational mistakes” and that he had only found mistakes, not failures.“There were mistakes, also on the high military levels, but happily, they were not the result of negligence,” Eiland said.He slammed the navy for not preparing a "Plan B," instead choosing to board the flotilla despite heavy presence of activists on board.The Israel Navy went on high alert Thursday in preparation for another flotilla, amid forecasts that two vessels from Lebanon were preparing to depart for the Gaza Strip in an effort to break the blockade by the end of the week.Two ships are expected to depart Tripoli on either Friday or Saturday to try and break the blockade. One of the ships is carrying women and the other is carrying journalists.
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