Marines 'weren't properly equipped' for task
Wrong intelligence, wrong equipment, wrong tactics. Israel's military yesterday acknowledged big mistakes in the bungled boarding of a Gaza-bound aid ship, during which elite troops killed nine international activists.
Newspaper headlines of "Foul-up" and "Fiasco" reflected the public mood in Israel, while one commentator called for the resignation of defence minister Ehud Barak.
Claims that the pro-Palestinian activists had provoked the bloodshed found a ready ear among an irate Israeli public, but marine commandos involved in the attack pointed to a failure of intelligence.
"We did not expect such resistance from the group's activists as we were talking about a humanitarian aid group," said the boarding party's commander, an unnamed naval lieutenant who received special permission to be interviewed.
"The outcome was different to what we thought, but... this was mainly because of the inappropriate behaviour of the adversary we encountered," he said.
Though Israel's police quarantine of activists from the Mavi Marmara prevented the airing of dissenting testimony, a video clip filmed by one of the passengers as the converted cruise ship was stormed showed two marines being clubbed and stabbed.
The Israeli military also released night-vision footage of a half-dozen commandos grappling with as many as 30 activists.
The images stirred undercurrents of disbelief and disgrace in Israel. Fabled for their silent exploits at sea, the fighters who rappelled onto the Mavi Marmara ship seemed unfit for the melee -- outnumbered, almost overpowered, though not outgunned.