Mavi Marmara report shows how Israel investigates itself

Today’s state comptroller’s report on the deadly 2010 flotilla raid treats it as a bureaucratic issue with no moral dimension.

There’s so much to say about the raid on the Turkish flotilla bound for Gaza two years ago, so much that has been said, and what’s the big, long-awaited, explosive indictment in today’s state comptroller’s report on the event?

“The prime minister’s decision-making was made without proper coordination, documentation, or preparation…” He didn’t hold enough meetings, or he didn’t hold the right kind of meetings.  He didn’t “internalize’ the defense establishment’s warnings that there would be violent resistance on board. Would it have changed anything if Bibi had “internalized” them? Ynet: “The comptroller noted that while his assertions are not enough to conclusively indicate that the unfortunate outcome of the flotilla could have been prevented had the decision-making protocols been followed, the incident should serve as a lesson for the future.”


Israel blockaded Gaza, preventing spices, toys, newspapers and anything else considered “luxury items” from going in; then a flotilla led by a Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, sailed for Gaza carrying medical supplies and other humanitarian aid; on May 31, 2010 the navy tried to commandeer the ship in international waters; a few dozen Islamists and other activists swinging clubs and metal rods attacked the unarmed commandos who were sliding down ropes onto the ship, capturing three of them; then a team of armed commandos boarded the ship, killing eight Turks and one Turkish-American, and took it over.

The Palmer Commission, appointed by Ban Ki-moon, wrote an investigative report on the raid that Israel waves around as vindication because it determined (unfortunately) that the blockade of Gaza was justified. Here’s a passage from the Palmer report that the Prime Minister’s Office doesn’t publicize:

No satisfactory explanation has been provided to the Panel by Israel for any of the nine deaths. Forensic evidence showing that most of the deceased were shot multiple times, including in the back, or at close range has not been adequately accounted for in the material presented by Israel.

There was significant mistreatment of passengers by Israeli authorities after the take-over of the vessels had been completed until their deportation. This included physical mistreatment, harassment and intimidation, unjustified confiscation of belongings and the denial of timely consular assistance.

Prior to the Palmer report, the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed an investigative panel, which Israel treated like it treated the Goldstone Commission. The UNHRC panel, which interviewed 112 activists on board the Mavi Marmara, wrote things like this:

None of the four passengers who were killed [on the ship’s top deck and bridge deck], including a photographer who at the time of being shot was engaged in taking photographs and was shot by an Israeli soldier positioned on the top deck above, posed any threat to the Israeli forces. There was considerable live fire from Israeli soldiers on the top deck and a number of passengers were injured or killed whilst trying to take refuge inside the door or assisting others to do so.

When the detained activists were taken to Ben-Gurion Airport to be flown home, they were mauled by Israeli security forces, they told the UNHCR panel, which was headed by a former International Criminal Court judge from Trinidad and Tobago, who was joined by a British war crimes prosecutor and a women’s rights activist from Malaysia. An anecdote:

Some passengers in the passport checking area saw an older passenger being roughly treated after receiving what appeared to be a beating. When other passengers, including Irish and Turkish, protested at this treatment, they were charged by soldiers using batons. In the foray, around 30 passengers were beaten to the ground, kicked and punched in a sustained attack by soldiers. One Irish passenger was seen being particularly badly beaten around the head and held in a choke position to the point of near suffocation.

The actions of the navy commandos during the raid, the actions of the soldiers, cops and prison guards after the raid – none of this was mentioned in the state comptroller’s report. But why should it have been? Israel’s internal “investigations” already determined that everything was as it should have been, it was self-defense from start to finish.

The lesson learned here from the raid is that the navy should have met the Mavi Marmara with shock and awe, not ropes and paintball guns like they did. The tragedy was not the nine deaths – let them rot in hell – but that they gave the anti-Semites ammunition for another blood libel against Israel. Moral of the story: It’s not enough to be right, you have to be smart, too.

So now the state comptroller, Micha Lindenstrauss, says Netanyahu didn’t follow protocol, he didn’t listen – not that it would have made any difference, but still.

Bibi can skate past this “scandal” in leg irons. This one will be forgotten by tomorrow. The weekend news round-ups may have a little fun with him, but the dogs bark and the caravan moves on. When it comes to ramming it to the Gazans, or the Turks, or anybody, really, the only way to cause a scandal in this country is by not doing it hard enough.

Haaretz story on state comptroller’s report
Palmer report on Mavi Marmara raid
UN Human Rights Council panel report on raid