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Israel made 'mistakes' in Gaza ship raid: panel

Israeli authorities did not do an adequate job of planning the deadly raid on a Gaza aid flotilla, an Israeli military inquiry report says.

Israeli authorities did not do an adequate job of planning the deadly raid on a Gaza aid flotilla, says an Israeli military inquiry report released Monday.

A frame grab from a video released by the Israeli military shows what the military says is a pro-Palestinian activist hitting Israeli soldiers with a club-like object after the soldiers raided a ship that was part of Gaza-bound aid flotilla on May 31, 2010.

Nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists were killed and dozens injured during the May 31 pre-dawn raid, when Israeli commandos boarded six vessels on their way to Gaza.

The deaths occurred aboard one ship — the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara.

Declassified sections of the Israeli military commission's report cited several flaws in preparation for the raid. The report said faulty intelligence led military planners to underestimate the possibility of violent resistance to the boarding.

"Mistakes were made in the various decisions taken, including within relatively senior ranks, which contributed to the result not being as we would have wished," the panel's chair, retired general Giroa Eiland, told reporters at a briefing. 

"In this inquiry, we found that there were some professional mistakes regarding both the intelligence and the decision-making process and some operational mistakes."

The report attaches no blame to the navy commandos that carried out the raid and does not call for anyone's dismissal. But officials told The Associated Press that some senior officers could be demoted or forced out.

Israel has maintained that its forces had the legal right to board the vessel to enforce a naval blockade it put in place in 2007 to stop weapons from reaching Hamas-controlled Gaza. It says its forces fired in self-defence when passengers attacked them with metal rods.

The activists say Israel's military response was an extreme and unnecessary overreaction.   

2nd inquiry ongoing  

This isn't the only inquiry into the controversial boarding.

A civilian-led panel was set up by the Israeli government following an international outcry over the incident.

The three-man panel also has two international observers, including retired brigadier-general Ken Watkin, Canada's former chief military prosecutor.  

The head of the civilian inquiry has asked for more power to investigate the raid. At present, the inquiry's mandate is limited to investigating the operation's legality.

With files from The Associated Press