In a 153-page report released yesterday, Israel’s State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss criticised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his handling of the May 2010 Gaza-bound flotilla. Israel’s interception of the Mavi Marmara, the largest boat of the flotilla, left nine Turkish activists dead and several Israeli commandos injured.
In the report, Lindenstrauss accused the Netanyahu administration of failing to coordinate the actions of relevant agencies, ignoring military warnings about potential violence on the part of the activists, keeping the National Security Council out of the loop and dropping the ball on media response and public diplomacy.
Although Lindenstrauss found fault with others, including Defence Minister Ehud Barak and the IDF, his report held Netanyahu responsible for the overall outcome. “The prime minister’s decision-making was made without proper coordination, documentation or preparation,” despite the fact that all were aware that the Turkish flotilla was larger and more politically sensitive than those that preceded it, he wrote.
According to the report, Netanyahu skipped over authorised decision-making bodies and preferred private, undocumented meetings with Barak and with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Barak, for his part, was accused of silencing opposition to a military raid. In reality, Lindenstrauss wrote, Netanyahu decided how to deal with the flotilla “based on the recommendations of his friends.”
In response, a statement from Netanyahu’s office said Israeli citizens have been enjoying a level of security unknown for years, which it said was, “the direct result of responsible management and determined policy.” Security discussions held over the past three years, the statement said, “have been unprecedented in their scope and depth.”
Netanyahu also stressed that a panel, “established by the U.N. secretary-general to investigate the flotilla incident clearly ruled that the maritime blockade to prevent weapons reaching the terrorists in Gaza is legitimate self-defence,” and that the interception was, “indeed legal under international law.”
The interception of the Mavi Marmara turned violent when shipboard activists assaulted Israeli commandos with metal rods and knives as they attempted to board the vessel. The following clash resulted in the deaths of nine activists and widespread international criticism of Israel. All other similar boardings by the IDF were carried out without violence on either side. Israel eased its restrictions on access of goods to the Hamas-controlled coastal strip in the wake of the incident. The attack also damaged Israel’s relations with Turkey, already soured following Operation Cast Lead in 2009.