Israeli military report on deadly Gaza flotilla raid expected to criticize botched operationBy Ian Deitch, AP
Monday, July 12, 2010
Israel to release critical report on flotilla raid
TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel’s first internal report on the deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla will criticize the planning and intelligence-gathering that preceded the operation, and not the commandos who conducted it, defense officials said Monday.
Unclassified sections of the report were to be released later Monday. The report will not recommend dismissals, but some senior officers could be ousted or demoted in ensuing shake-ups, said the officials, who were familiar with the report but spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of its formal release.
Israel has resisted calls for a U.N.-led inquiry into the raid, saying it would be biased. In addition to the investigation conducted for the military, Israel has appointed a civilian inquiry with a mandate limited to investigating the legality of the operation. Two international observers have been attached to the civilian commission, which is led by a retired Israeli Supreme Court judge.
The officials said the report, commissioned by the military and authored by a retired Israeli general, will not fault the commandos who opened fire after being confronted by violent pro-Palestinian activists on board one of the ships.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because it has not yet been released.
Eight Turks and one Turkish-American died in the raid, which provoked an international outcry and strained relations with Turkey.
Anger over the May 31 bloodshed forced Israel to ease its land blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The naval blockade, meant to keep weapons from reaching Gaza’s Hamas rulers, remains in place.
The blockade could face a new challenge later this week, this time by a Libyan protest ship.
Israeli officials have said the boat would not be allowed to reach the Palestinian territory. Israel says the boat can dock at an Egyptian or Israeli port and the goods aboard will be screened and sent into Gaza overland.
“This ship is carrying humanitarian aid and its organizers are not looking for political propaganda or media campaigns or any provocation,” said Youssef Sawani, executive director of Gadhafi International Charity and Development Foundation, which dispatched the protest vessel. Sawani has said he hoped the vessel would reach Gaza on Tuesday.
In unrelated news, the military plans to investigate the death of a Palestinian man killed by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli security forces during a protest against Israel’s West Bank separation barrier 15 months ago, an Israeli human rights group said.
The military had no public comment on the report by the B’tselem group, which had pressed for an investigation and rejected the military’s original contention that Bassem Abu Rahmeh was standing in a group of Palestinians hurling rocks at troops.
Video footage showed him shouting, not throwing rocks, when he was shot.
Associated Press Writer Maggie Michael contributed to this report from Cairo.
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