Monday, July 12, 2010

The Eiland report on the Mavi Marmara, plus more

Maj. Gen. (Res.) Giora Eiland had the task of examining, from a military perspective, the conduct of the IDF in the Mavi Marmara incident. He gave his report today, and here are some highlights - not only from the IDF report on his debriefing but also some details given by a senior IDF official that I received via email.

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 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 additional points I have found out are perhaps more interesting:

* Nine IDF soldiers were injured in all, 3 of them seriously
* There were at least four and perhaps as many as six separate incidents where IDF soldiers were fired upon by "peace activists". In one case a soldier shot in the knee was shot by a weapon which was not IDF issued, and shell casings were found on the ship of bullets that did not come from Israeli weapons.
* In every situation where IDF soldiers used their weapons they were in life-threatening situations.
* The first Israeli soldier shot was the second one who rappelled down. This was almost certainly the first use of live fire by anyone in the incident - in other words, Mavi Marmara passengers shot first. The bullet that hit him came, apparently, from an Israeli gun that had been stripped off one of the other soldiers. He was not shot while going down the rope but soon thereafter.
* 3 soldiers were taken hostage. All of them were taken to the lowest deck. Two of them managed to escape and jump overboard where they were rescued; the third one was too badly injured and was rescued later.