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Wednesday, May 25, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Israeli military adopts 'protocol' to prepare
for upcoming flotilla

TEL AVIV — Israel's military is preparing for the next Western-backed flotilla to the Gaza Strip.


The military has drafted a doctrine to confront flotillas that seek to break the siege on the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas since 2007. The doctrine was drafted ahead of what could be the next flotilla to the Gaza Strip in June.

"The order will contribute to the Army's ability to handle the next flotilla in a way better than the last," a senior officer said.

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In April 2010, nine people were killed in a bloody interception by the Israel Navy of a Turkish-flagged flotilla destined for the Gaza Strip. The Israel Navy's commando unit employed live fire after its soldiers were attacked by scores of Islamists with knives and iron bars.

The new doctrine was drafted by the military's Operations Branch and sought to draw lessons from the battle aboard the Turkish-flagged ship Marmara. The doctrine addressed the need for coordination between military units as well as methods to engage hostile civilians.

"The protocol document is meant to help take care of this type of event," the unidentified officer told the military weekly Bamahane. "It explains how to do so according to international law and it follows ethical and judicial criteria."

A military investigation of the Marmara case concluded that Israel failed to appoint an individual responsible for the detainees from the Turkish-flagged flotilla, Middle East Newsline reported. The probe asserted that this further harmed Israel's image in wake of the interception.

The doctrine also included requirements for a common language in communications between the air force and navy. Another recommendation was the introduction of shared principles in the engagement and detention of civilians.

"The order is very important in terms of the law," the officer said. "For example, when you separate a person from his equipment you are liable to be charged for it, which happened on the Marmara. The new order is supposed to improve our image abroad. With the help of these instructions we will know how to lawfully defend each activity we do in a judicial and ethical way."

So far, the forthcoming flotilla has been denied insurance by Lloyd's of London. The denial was confirmed after an Israeli legal group, the Israel Law Center, said any insurer of the Gaza flotilla would be vulnerable to lawsuits.

"We are cautioning them that if they knowingly insure one of the flotilla boats providing material resources to Hamas, they will also be indemnifying the Hamas rocket crews for all future Kassam missile attacks as the terror victims will surely sue them," the Israel Law Center said.

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