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The Day In Israel: Monday July 12th, 2010

An IDF committee has completed its investigation of the Gaza flotilla raid that left 9 terror enablers dead and will release its report today.

flotilla terroristAn Israeli military report to be released today on the Israel Navy’s deadly May raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla is expected to accuse the navy of failing to sufficiently consider the possibility that the commandos would encounter violent resistance when attempting to keep the ships out of Gaza.

The report is also expected to criticize the navy for not cooperating sufficiently with the Mossad in gathering information ahead of the flotilla’s arrival and to discuss the process by which the raid was approved. It is not, however, expected to call for disciplinary action against particular officers.

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The Israel Defense Forces committee investigating the raid, headed by Maj. Gen. (res. ) Giora Eiland, is the first to complete its investigation. The Turkel Committee, appointed by the government to examine whether the raid adhered to international law, has just begun its investigation. A team from the State Comptroller’s Office will be beginning its own probe of the flotilla raid shortly.

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Witnesses and various other people who have spoken to Eiland say that his report will be very critical of the army’s conduct in the affair. Eiland is also reportedly critical of the government’s conduct, but the report will not cover politicians.

Eilan may, however, mention the government’s conduct in the press conference he has called for today. The briefing may also be the place to mention the actions of specific people with regard to the affair, if he does not mention them in his report.

It is believed that Eiland is not likely to call for action against individuals involved in the affair because of his record on such things in the past, particularly his report on the abduction of soldier Gilad Shalit four years ago.

Eiland is expected to focus his attention on specific institutions – the navy and its intelligence branch, Military Intelligence, without specifically recommending action against the officers who head these bodies.

The navy is to be the main target of Eiland’s critique of the operation, although his assessment will apparently be tempered by consideration for the navy’s success in several operations in recent years under Maj. Gen. Eliezer Marom.

The Turkel Committee is expected to make use of Eiland’s conclusions as a jumping-off point for its investigation of the government’s conduct during the affair.

If the findings of Eiland’s committee and other evidence indicate that soldiers may have committed criminal offenses or war crimes, the military advocate general will be informed, and will then decide whether to open a criminal investigation, the State Prosecutor’s Office informed the High Court of Justice yesterday.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

8:00PM: Introducing the Odd Couple.

odd coupleRabbi Ovadia Yosef has written a letter to President Hosni Mubarak, in which he wished him health, following the Egyptian president’s recent medical treatment in Germany and reports about his deteriorating health. “We pray to the creator of the universe to send you full and speedy recovery,” he wrote.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hand the letter to Mubarak on behalf of Ovadia, during the leaders’ scheduled meeting on Wednesday.

“For your highness, President of Egypt Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, may his glory be exalted,” wrote Shas’ spiritual leader.

“May you continue to lead you countrymen in majesty, courage and strength, for a lifetime and in peace; may you succeed in all your doings, according to your heart’s desire,” the letter read.

Rabbi Ovadia signed the letter with a warm greeting, “Respectfully yours, in the greatness of your virtue.”

The rabbi and Shas Chairman, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, have kept in close touch with Mubarak for many years. Only recently, journalist Yotam Feldman, who was arrested in Egypt, was released from custody with the help of Yishai’s mediation.

Arab media has been reporting about Mubarak’s deteriorating health condition for many years, and recent reports have rekindled the debate over who will inherit the presidency, with his son, Gammal, leading the race.

However, President Mubarak never confirmed such reports and is due to complete his fifth year of his sixth tenure as president. He has yet to announce whether he will compete in the upcoming elections slated for 2011.

Speculations over Mubarak’s health have increased in recent months following his March trip to Germany, where he underwent an operation to remove a gull bladder. Doubts about his medical situation surfaced again last week after Mubarak made a sudden visit to Paris and met with President Nicolas Sarkozy.

6:26PM: The committee headed by Major-General (Res.) Giora Eiland, which was elected to investigate the flotilla, has .

Maj. Gen. (Res.) Eiland Presents the Chief of the General Staff with the Conclusions of his Examination Team

The IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, received the conclusions reached by a team of experts, headed by Maj. Gen. (Res.) Giora Eiland, tasked with examining the incidents that took place at sea on May 31st 2010.

Maj. Gen. Eiland presented the team’s findings and conclusions to the Chief of the General Staff as well as to officers from the General Staff and from other IDF branches and directorates who were involved in the preparations and in the actual boarding of the flotilla. The core of the report was presented the Minister of Defense of Israel as well.

The team was appointed by the Chief of the General Staff to examine the deployment towards the flotilla, the chosen course of action and other possible alternatives, advance preparations, and the operation’s implementation.

The team included eight officers and their examination focused on intelligence, Naval command, the naval commando unit responsible for carrying out the operation, the Israel Air Force, media relations, technological alternatives, medical aspects and legal counsel and international law.

The examination presented various lessons on a broad, systemic level, not only as regards this specific operation (stopping the flotilla).

In terms of the intelligence effort, the team concluded that not all possible intelligence gathering methods were fully implemented and that the coordination between Navy Intelligence and the Israel Defense Intelligence was insufficient. At the same time, the team emphasized that it is not certain that an optimal intelligence effort would create a complete intelligence picture. The team also pointed out that the anticipated level of violence used against the forces was underestimated.

In terms of situation assessments towards the flotilla, the team clarified that the operation relied excessively on a single course of action, albeit a probable one, while no alternative courses of action were prepared for the event of more dangerous scenarios.

Regarding technological alternatives, the team determined that on the day of the incident, decision makers were not presented with alternative operational courses of action other than a full boarding of the flotilla.  The team emphasized the fact that as far as is currently known, no country in the world holds the ability to stop a vessel at sea in a non hostile manner. Therefore statements made on this matter following the incident are unfounded and irresponsible. At the same time, the team determined that alternative courses of action could have existed had the process of preparation begun enough time in advance, and recommended to accelerate the process of examining alternative methods.

The expert team determined that regarding media relations, the preparations made in advance were good. However, the release of press statements and visual materials was delayed due to the need to maintain reliability, the obligation to notify the families of the critically injured soldiers and the long authorization process at the levels above the IDF Spokesperson Unit. The team noted with favor the work of the IDF spokesperson following the incident and emphasized the need for better coordination between the IDF, the foreign ministry and other foreign affairs institutions.

In terms of operation command, the team determined that the location of the commanders during the incident and the presence of the Commander of the Israel Navy at sea during the operation, was proper and fit with the Chief of the General Staff’s view regarding the role of commanders at the front lines of IDF activity. His presence proved effective in terms of the decision making process, saving lives and more. The team praised the Israel Navy combat protocols, the preparations of the Naval Commando Unit, the Navy Command, the Electronic Warfare Formation and the medical evacuation.

The team determined that the Navy Commando soldiers operated properly, with professionalism, bravery and resourcefulness and that the commanders exhibited correct decision making. The report further determines that the use of live fire was justified and that the entire operation is estimable.

The team noted with favor the various stages of medical evacuation of the injured by air and by sea, including the injured passengers of the Mavi Marmara. In addition the team pointed out the serious attitude with which the General Staff and the Israel Navy approached the matter, as expressed in the preparations.

Maj. Gen. (Res.) Eiland noted with favor the degree of cooperation and transparency exhibited by those involved in the examination at all levels. In the summary of the examination Maj. Gen. Eiland determined that the issue should be viewed with perspective, being that the damage caused to Israel is not as severe as it seemed following the incident. In addition, he said that a there’s a tendency to draw general conclusions based on a single incident and that “the fact that the IDF examines itself and others do not, results in that only the errors of the IDF are publicized,” according to Maj. Gen. (Res.) Eiland.

5:32PM: In line with the World Cup mood (ok, it finished last night, but everyone is still talking about it), I present to you the best highlights of Israeli football (hat tip: Israel21c).

5:18PM: Germany has banned the International Humanitarian Relief Organization (IHH) because it has used donations to support projects in Gaza that are related to Hamas.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in a statement that the International Humanitarian Relief Organization was banned Monday because it has used donations to support projects in Gaza that are related to Hamas – while presenting their activities to donors as humanitarian help.

“Under the guise of humanitarian aid, the IHH has long backed, with significant financial assistance, so-called social welfare organizations based in the Gaza Strip that can be linked to Hamas,” he said.

“Donations to so-called social welfare groups belonging to Hamas, such as the millions given by IHH, actually support the terror organization Hamas as a whole.”

Hamas, which runs Gaza, doesn’t recognize Israel. De Maiziere said organizations that directly or indirectly work against Israel’s right to exist lose their right to be active in Germany.

Ha’aretz notes “Despite sharing the name, the German IHH has no connection to the Turkish group that organized the flotilla to break the naval blockade of Gaza that left nine people dead.”

3:40PM: Israel has sent doctors and medical equipment to the Democratic Republic of Congo for the treatment of seriously injured burn victims as a result of the recent fuel tanker explosion.

Following the fuel tanker explosion in the city of Sange in the Demoratic Republic of Congo on July 2, in which more than 250 people were killed and almost 200 injured, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is sending aid to the disaster area through Israel’s National Agency for International Cooperation (MASHAV). A delegation of six doctors from Sheba Medical Center, together with medical equipment, flew to the Democratic Republic of Congo to treat the seriously injured.

The doctors, all specialists in plastic surgery and burns, arrived this morning (12 July) and will be treating people with serious burn injuries in the towns of Sange and Uvira, located in eastern Congo, near the border with Burundi.

The team was sent in coordination with the Congolese authorities and with the blessing of President Joseph Kabila and the Congolese ministers of foreign affairs and health. A UN task force in the field (MUNISCO) came to the aid of the humanitarian mission and was instructed to facilitate the reception of the delegation and to ensure their security during their stay.

12:45PM: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Fox News Sunday.

Notice how Netanyahu states he thinks Israel and the PA can make peace. Yet only last year, he stated “Without recognition of Israel as the Jewish state, we simply cannot reach peace.” Since I am not aware of the PA recognizing Israel as a Jewish state (quite the opposite, actually), it looks like the signs are there for a Netanyahu capitulation to palestinian demands.

12:24PM: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has reportedly told a forum of senior ministers that direct negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas are set for early August.

6:08AM: He has a point:

Member of Knesset Ayoub Kara (Likud) said Sunday that Gaza should be put under Egyptian control. Interviewed on Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew journal, the deputy minister for development of the Galilee and the Negev said that the Arabs, in general, are always talking to Israel about returning to the situation before 1967, when Gaza belonged to Egypt and Judea and Samaria belonged to Jordan.

For the record, Ayoub Kara is a Druze-Arab.

Just saying.

5:50AM: Everyone’s favorite Israeli spokesperson on Fox News, speaking about the stalled Middle East peace talks.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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