JERUSALEM (Oct. 28)
Twelve Israeli naval commandos killed in a recent failed raid into Lebanon were caught in an ambush and were not the victims of an intelligence failure, according to an official commission probing the raid.
Maj. Gaby Ophir, who headed the commission, said the troops encountered the ambush “by chance.”
The commission’s report “did not find fault or shortcomings” on the part of Israel Defense Force planners that “contributed directly to the grave results of the operation.”
The commandos were killed in a Sept. 5 raid that resulted in the IDF’s heaviest casualty count in more than 12 years in a single military operation.
The report was presented to the IDF chief of staff, the defense minister and the families of the commandos.
There had been speculation in the Israeli media that the botched raid was the result of an intelligence failure or a leak to Lebanese guerrillas.
Some of the dead commandos’ relatives were quoted as saying that they remained unconvinced by the report’s conclusions.
The presentation of the findings came as Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai levied criticism this week at the IDF’s operations in southern Lebanon.
His criticisms came during discussions he held with senior defense officials at the IDF northern command.
The head of the northern command, Maj. Gen. Amiram Levine, disclosed during the meeting that a squad of gunmen had attempted to abduct an IDF soldier from a position in the security zone over the weekend.
The gunmen were repelled by Israeli fire, he said.