White House rejected Israeli intel, blocked use of anti-riot gear against flotilla

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama stopped Israel from using anti-riot gear to prevent a Turkish-sponsored flotilla from breaking the siege on the Gaza Strip.
Diplomatic sources said the White House rejected Israeli intelligence assessments that the six-ship flotilla contained weapons and Islamist fighters trained to resist any boarding operation. The sources, privy to Israeli-U.S. government communications, said Obama and his leading aides pressed Israel against any act that would be deemed excessive force.

“The White House demanded that Israel exercise extreme caution and restraint in any scenario,” a diplomatic source said.

The Obama administration demands were relayed through Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor, the sources said. They said Barak, who has sought advanced weapons from Washington, persuaded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree that the Israel Navy would not use anti-riot equipment, including tear gas, to stop the flotilla.

The sources said the Israeli intelligence community had informed the White House that the flotilla contained scores of Turks trained in weapons and hand-to-hand combat. They said the Turkish-flagged ship Marmara was believed to have contained weapons and components ordered by the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip.

In the end, Netanyahu approved a plan for the Israel Navy to board Marmara with commandos armed with paintball guns. The commandos were quickly overpowered by Turkish fighters until the Israeli commander ordered live fire, which killed nine passengers, eight of them Turks.

Obama, whose aides were said to have been in contact with the flotilla, did not condemn the Israeli naval interception. But within hours of the bloody clash, the president withdrew his invitation to Netanyahu to come to the White House.

“The last thing the president wanted was to stand next to Netanyahu as he defended this action and blasted Hamas and its supporters in the West,” another source said.

The sources said Barak and Netanyahu decided on the details of the interception without consulting a seven-member security Cabinet committee. Later, Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon, a former chief of staff, asserted that the naval operation had endangered the commandos.

“The prime minister decided to settle everything with the defense minister,” Ya’alon was quoted as saying. “Netanyahu shouldn’t have left such fateful decisions to an irresponsible defense minister drunk with power.”

In wake of the clash, Obama has sought to ease tensions with Turkey. On June 2, Obama telephoned Prime Minister Recep Erdogan amid rising Islamist threats against Turkey’s Christian and Jewish communities. The following day, a Roman Catholic bishop was killed by an alleged Islamist.

“Obama told Erdogan ‘Don’t rock the boat too much. We’ll take care of business,'” another diplomatic source said. “It was a very friendly message.”

On June 4, the administration, which reinvited Netanyahu, demanded the easing of Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip. The White House said the United States was working with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to “develop new procedures for delivering more goods and assistance to Gaza, while also increasing opportunity for the people of Gaza and preventing the importation of weapons.”

“The current arrangements are unsustainable and must be changed,” White House spokesman Mike Hammer said. “For now, we call on all parties to join us in encouraging responsible decisions by all sides to avoid any unnecessary confrontations and to ensure the safety of all involved.”

June 10, 2010 | 12 Comments »

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12 Comments / 12 Comments

  1. Iran: We’ll Send Aid Flotilla To Gaza June 18

    Yamit (Uncle) if they try to break through the blockade the IDF should disable the craft let them sit out there until some other nation tows them elsewhere.

    Again the rouges are getting brazen since the US leadership is at an all time low. We have an acorn community organizer who was handing out leaflets in Chicago, a anti-Semite incompetent president.

    I am watching Fox News and Geraldo Rivera is a guest and he is one pain in the ass liberal, I have to believe he and Chris Mathews both get a thrill up their leg when Barry Obama speaks. He is one jerk.

  2. Israel will cave and not challenge.

    I’ll take you up on that. I think otherwise. I do realize however, that you’ve been pretty good at calling these kind of things, so I’m going against the odds.

  3. This is a very questionable post.

    My thoughts exactly. The way the Israelis approached the situation was like the believed all aboard the ships were Rachel Cory clones. If Israeli intelligence had information they showed Washington, I highly doubt they they would believe the White House’s analysis.

  4. This is a vey questonable post. Do you really believe that Israel intel knew there were terrorists on those ships and allowed unarmed (except for sidearms) commandoes to shimmy down ropes onto the deks? and no navy ships surrounding the flotilla?

    Yes of course.

    What then for this:

    Iran: We’ll Send Aid Flotilla To Gaza June 18

    Israel will cave and not challenge.

  5. This is a vey questonable post. Do you really believe that Israel intel knew there were terrorists on those ships and allowed unarmed (except for sidearms) commandoes to shimmy down ropes onto the deks? and no navy ships surrounding the flotilla?

    What then for this:

    Iran: We’ll Send Aid Flotilla To Gaza June 18

    Mohammad Ali Nourani, deputy director of the Association for Defending the Palestinian Nation in Iran, said June 8 that the aid flotilla “to Gaza,” with the participation of Iranian Majlis members, students, and artists, will set sail June 18 from Kharmashehr port in southern Iran and will reach Gaza port via Oman, Yemen, and Egypt.

    Firooz Rajai-Far, secretary-general of the World Islamic Organization Headquarters for Honoring the Shahids, said that her organization was willing to join the flotilla with readiness for martyrdom.

    Sources: Qodsna, Iran, June 9, 2010; Mehr, Iran, June 7, 2010

  6. Diplomatic sources said the White House rejected Israeli intelligence assessments that the six-ship flotilla contained weapons and Islamist fighters trained to resist any boarding operation

    Names please.

    If Israel is running everything by Obama for approval, they have a huge problem. And, if they send their men into a situation under-armed at the behest of Washington, their problem is even bigger.

    If Obama ‘ordered’ Israel to conduct the raid they way they did, they should have asked Obama for his birth certificate first. ; )

  7. MUST READ: Get Out of My Face
    by Sara K. Eisen

    We Jews are so irritating.
    Here’s the thing. I’ve been thinking about poor Helen Thomas, who I believe was probably just saying what everyone thinks and has therefore been made a scapegoat. Not that I really care, because we ought to share the scapegoat status once in a while. It’s the least we can do to dispel the stereotype that we are stingy, us irritating Jews.

  8. Obama Official: Netanyahu Waiting for ‘President Palin’

    by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
    Follow Israel news on Twitter and Facebook.

    The Netanyahu government’s attitude to the United States shows it is “waiting for President [Sarah] Palin, an Obama official reportedly told Peter Beinart, writing for the Atlantic Monthly news site. Palin was the Republican candidate for vice president two years ago and is considered a front-running candidate for the next presidential election in 2012.

  9. Nationalist Russian Israelis Mock Leftist Rally in Tel Aviv

    A recent leftist rally against a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square was crashed by proud nationalist Russian Israelis who aimed at making a mockery of the event.

    Hundreds of people congregated on Saturday afternoon against Jewish Judea and Samaria, and in solidarity with Arab residents of Hamas-controlled Gaza and the recent terrorist-laden Gaza “aid” flotilla. The rally, called “The Government is Drowning Us All,” was planned prior to the flotilla incident, but co-opted the issue on the day of the march.

    However, the Sabbath-day event did not go off without a hitch. A large group of secular nationalist Russian Israelis infiltrated their march, holding banners in English and Russian ridiculing the leftists.

    The nationalists, who were otherwise indistinguishable from the rest of the protestors, held signs including “We’ll Stab for Peace”, “We’ll make the world abandon reason”, “We Believe in blah-blah-blah”, “What the hell am I doing here?” and “Don’t mess with the Zohan”, according to a report in the popular blog, The Muqata.

    The rally against Jewish Judea and Samaria also witnessed a strong overt counter-rally of other citizens who were infuriated by the nature and timing of the Rabin Square protest.

    Dozens of supporters of Jewish strength in Israel tried to disrupt the event, and may even have thrown a smoke grenade. Standing opposite a portion of the rally, counter-protestors sang slogans in support of Israeli Navy SEALS and sang Israel’s national anthem, HaTikva.

    They also shouted “traitors”, “go to Gaza”, and “terror supporters” at participants, from behind a blockade of police officers and riot police. (IsraelNationalNews.com)

  10. BB and Barak are a real danger to our existence.

    Enough already, our lives and our future are at stake with these two incompetent miscreant microbial cowards.

    They must go one way or another and I don’t care which.

    I warned against BB over and over and over again in this forum.

    One Thing I don’t have is political Alzheimer’s.

    Criminal charges should be brought against these two for purposely endangering the lives of our soldiers needlessly.