State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss will submit his report on the 2010 commando raid on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara to the Knesset State Control Committee on Wednesday, and is expected to heavily criticize key decision-makers involved in the affair.
The report, which is one of the last of Lindenstrauss’s tenure, examines the government’s decision-making process in regards to the raid, cooperation between the government and the military, and Israel’s public relations response to the incident, which ended with the death of nine Turkish citizens aboard the Gaza-bound vessel.
In May 2010, naval commandos intercepted a flotilla designed to breach the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. On the Mavi Marmara, the troops who rappelled down ropes from hovering helicopters onto the deck, were attacked by a group of radical activists armed with clubs, knives and iron rods. The soldiers, whose primary weapons were paintball guns, intended to stun and mark anticipated unruly activists, drew their side arms, and the ensuing battle resulted in injuries to several soldiers and the death of nine Turkish citizens. The incident led to a drastic deterioration in relations between Turkey and Israel.
Lindenstrauss based his report on the findings of an investigative commission led by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, which found deficiencies in the army’s preparedness for violent scenarios aboard the flotilla ships and failures in intelligence gathering and communications with the navy.
The State Comptroller’s report will not deal with the operational aspects of the raid, but rather with the procedural aspects and is expected to issue harsh criticism of the senior decision makers for failures in both the preparation for the flotilla and the public relations response to the events aboard the Mavi Marmara.
Much criticism was directed at the IDF following the raid for failing to quickly release video footage of the activists pouncing on the rappelling soldiers. The footage, which showed the activists aboard the boat grabbing the soldiers as they descended, was only released hours after news of the event reached the press, too late to influence some initial reports that commandos had, ostensibly, inexplicably killed unarmed activists.
Lindenstrauss will also submit a second report on the workings of the National Security Council, which is expected to raise criticism of the committee’s involvement, or lack thereof, in security related decision-making processes. The report is expected to find that the government did not make use of information provided by the NSC during its preparations for dealing with the flotilla.
Last week Turkey indicted, in absentia, four IDF officers, including former army chief Gabi Ashkenazi, for their alleged role in the deaths of the nine Turkish citizens. The men face 18,000 years in jail for the nine deaths and for “torturing” 104 others aboard.