Israeli Radio reported, Tuesday morning, that the Israeli Navy was placed on high alert on Monday at night, and is preparing to intercept the Libyan aid ship that sailed two days ago from Greece to deliver humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip. A special navy unit and a number of advanced combat boats are preparing plans to intercept, and, if needed, use force against the ship should it try to reach the Gaza coast.
A senior navy commander said that the navy will deal with the Libyan ship, that carries Moldavian flag, the same way it dealt with the Freedom Flotilla at the end of last May.
The commander added that clear messages will be sent to the captain of the ship to sail to Ashdod Port in order search it and unload its cargo. He said that should the pilot ignore the commands of the navy, Israel will be obliged to use force”.
Furthermore, Israeli daily Haaretz reported, Tuesday morning, that the Foreign Ministry instructed the army and the navy not to intercept the ship before its reaches the Gaza territorial waters, or at least when it is close to the territorial waters in order to avoid “violating the international law”.
Haaretz added that the ministry made the same request regarding the Freedom Flotilla but the government rejected it.
The Legal Department at the Foreign Ministry believes that the statements of the crew of the Libyan ship regarding determination to reach the Gaza shore might not be enough to justify attacking the ship in international waters.
Nine Turkish activists were killed and dozens were wounded when the army attacked the Marmara ship, part of the Freedom Flotilla that was heading to Gaza.
On Monday, Israel concluded what it called an official investigation into the attack on the Freedom Flotilla, and determined that “serious mistakes on the planning and intelligence levels were conducted leading to the death of the nine activists”.
The report was presented to Israel’s Intelligence Chief, Lt. Gen Gabi Ashkenazi. It revealed “although the army had underestimated the amount of violence, the attack was the only way to make sure the ship does not reach Gaza”.
The report was not made public yet, but it refrained from naming officials responsible for the shortcomings and failures.
Giora Eiland, the retired Israeli commander who headed the investigation, said that the “operation was complicated”, and that there were no negligences or wrongdoings in what he called the “complex operation”.
Yet, he acknowledged that some high ranking officers and officials made mistakes, and added that the outcome of the attack was not what Israel anticipated.
The report said that the navy failed in two of three objectives; it failed to protect the commandos who took part in the attack, and failed to avoid casualties. But it added that the aim to stop the ship from reaching Gaza was achieved.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign slammed the Israel report, and said that it came to “wash the hands of the soldiers and officials responsible for the deadly attack.’