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Israeli Probe Faults Military Planning in Deadly Raid on Gaza Aid Flotilla

Turkish ship Mavi Marmara taking part in the 'Freedom Flotilla' heading towards the Gaza Strip (file photo – 28 May 2010)
Turkish ship Mavi Marmara taking part in the 'Freedom Flotilla' heading towards the Gaza Strip (file photo – 28 May 2010)

Israel has published its first internal investigation of the deadly raid on an aid flotilla heading to the Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip. An Israeli military inquiry said the army was poorly prepared for the raid on an aid flotilla trying to break the Gaza blockade six weeks ago.

Nine people were killed when Israeli commandos stormed the ships. The Israelis said they acted in self-defense when they were attacked by pro-Palestinian activists wielding clubs and knives. The report said military intelligence underestimated the violent response. The battle plan was also flawed; for instance, commandos were armed with paint guns because they expected passive resistance.

Israeli analyst Ra'anan Gissin explains. "The strategic thinking has to be, first of all, to have sufficient intelligence but also the right intelligence, so that we can forestall, so that we can prevent this from happening right from the beginning," said Gissin.

The inquiry does not call for any officers to resign, and former general Yaakov Amidror believes that is the right decision.

"I don't think that people should go home because by losing all those who made mistakes we are losing a lot of experience," said Gissin. "One of the ways to learn and be better in the future is to learn from mistakes."

Israel has eased the land blockade on Gaza in the wake of international outrage over the flotilla incident. But the naval blockade remains in force to prevent weapons smuggling to the ruling Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The army's report was published as an aid ship hired by a Libyan charity is sailing toward Gaza and plans to defy the blockade. Israel has warned the ship to sail to the nearby Egyptian port of El Arish. But if the vessel remains on course for Gaza, it will be intercepted by the navy.

Israel rebuffed calls from Turkey and Arab states for an independent international probe of the raid.

The U.N. Security Council called for an impartial, credible and transparent investigation.