After the vessel carrying pro-Palestinian activists to Gaza was seized by Israel Navy forces, the State Control Committee chose specifically to focus on the decision-making process and cooperation between the government and the IDF, a problematic matter during the previous flotilla in 2013.
In a meeting on Wednesday, the head of the State Control Committee MK Karin Elharrar (Yesh Atid) emphasized that ”The result is not what matters, but rather the type and essence of the internal deliberations. The Security Cabinet ministers are very busy individuals, and when faced with defense decisions that affect the lives of people, the National Security Council must work directly with them to ensure that they have received, understood and internalized all of the information and its importance. I am happy that the last flotilla finished the way it did, but it is fundamentally different from the previous one so it is early to gloat about the results.”
Hovev Shapira, who prepared the report for the State Comptroller`s Office, explained that information on the Turkish flotilla in 2013 began to be gathered a number of months beforehand and it was immediately categorized as an exceptional case, leading to the Prime Minister and Defense Minister getting involved. There was a suspicion that the operators of the flotilla would be armed and the IDF estimated they would be able to deal with them. However, according to the findings of the report, the IDF did not prepare for a violent response from those on the flotilla, and in any event, the political leadership did prepare for it. Similarly, it was explained that the NSC `s work regarding the flotilla was not done in an orderly manner and a clear plan was not presented to the ministers.
MK Eyal Ben-Reuven (Zionist Camp) responded that national security is a profession, and the staff making the decisions must have a knowledge base that will help them make the best decisions. ”The State Comptroller must study the preparations of the state for a future confrontation in the north in order to prepare all of the fronts based on the lessons of the past,” he said.
MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) said that ”The cabinet had not prepared a program to manage Gaza, and the members of the cabinet do not have enough knowledge or information to prepare for future confrontations.”
Deputy NSC head Eran Lerman alleged that ”There has been an essential change in the state`s and all of the executive bodies` preparation regarding all strategic aspects, and we prepare and present to the cabinet all of the meanings and alternative options for action and recommendations. The preparation was given expression by Operation Protective Edge and in the recent (Gaza-bound) flotilla, and we are preparing material for discussion in the cabinet and are creating its agenda.”
Lerman called for the IDF to improve its participation in the deliberations of the NSC, but Lieutenant Yossi Cohen, representative of the IDF Operations Division responded that ”The cooperation process between the defense agencies in preparation for the most recent flotilla proved itself. We were in constant contact with the NSC and with all of the relevant government ministries, including spokespeople and the media, and the IDF trained for action and responses for the most extreme circumstances.”