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Military’s flotilla probe finds mistakes, not failures

JERUSALEM (JTA) — High-level military officials made mistakes in their handling of the Israeli interception of a Gaza-bound flotilla, but there were "no failures," an Israeli military investigation found.

The official Defense Ministry internal investigation report by a committee headed by Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Giora Eiland, the former head of Israel’s National Security Council, was handed over Monday to the army’s chief of staff and several high-ranking officers.

The report focuses on the military’s preparations for the flotilla’s arrival and the carrying out of the interception on May 31. It reportedly states that preparation for the interception was "flawed," and that the battle guidelines issued to the commandoes were equally flawed.

The committee also concluded that the passengers on the deck of the Turkish-flagged ship Mamara had begun the violence, which resulted in the death of nine Turkish passengers. One of the dead was Turkish American.

The Israel Defense Forces began preparing for the flotilla in February, according to the report.

The investigative team reportedly used Israeli Navy testimonies gathered following the incident and was charged with determining "the outcomes and lessons learned from the operation," according to the IDF.

The members of the team included professionals with expertise on the matter who were not a part of the operational chain of command during the incident.

A state panel of inquiry headed by retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice Jacob (Yaakov) Turkel was appointed last month to conduct a separate investigation. The commission, which includes two foreign observers, has asked the government to broaden its scope and powers.
 

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