Analysis: Israel Suffers Strategic Blowback in Flotilla Raid

Gaza Freedom Flotilla raid

Flotilla raid

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Speaking before a parliamentary committee about last month’s Israeli raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which killed nine and injured over 60 international volunteers, a senior Israeli intelligence official warned  that “[e]vents [like this] are likely to go out of control and the situation could deteriorate to extreme scenarios”. The official was no other than Meir Dagan, director of the Mossad, Israel’s foremost external intelligence agency. As I explain in an article published yesterday in Daily News Corner, to some extent, Dagan’s “extreme scenario” has already materialized. The raid’s outrageous death toll has further-worsened Israel’s deteriorating relations with Australia and has caused the outright termination of the Jewish state’s diplomatic contacts with several non-Western countries that used to be among its closest international friends, such as Turkey, South Africa, Ecuador and Nicaragua. More importantly, the flotilla attack has even stigmatized Israel’s relations with the United States, a development that fits into the broader pattern of steadily worsening US-Israeli relations in recent years. It is no coincidence that, on the day after the raid, Mossad chief Dagan said that “Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden”. Read article →

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News you may have missed #367 (Gaza flotilla edition IV)

  • Flotilla raid dead include US citizen. One of the nine people killed in an Israeli commando raid on a flotilla of ships heading for Gaza this week was a United States citizen of Turkish descent, according to officials in Turkey and Washington. Still no response from the White House or the US State Department.
  • South Africa, Ecuador, Nicaragua recall envoys from Israel. Ecuador President Rafael Correa says he has recalled the country’s ambassador to Israel following the deadly Israeli Navy raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla. The Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry said the ambassador would leave Tel Aviv immediately. Meanwhile, Nicaragua has suspended all of its diplomatic ties with Israel. South Africa has also recalled its ambassador to Israel. A South African Foreign Ministry spokesman said the move marks “a low point in relations” between the two countries.

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Israel becoming a burden to the US, says Mossad chief

Meir Dagan

Meir Dagan

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The director of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has publicly stated the agency’s concerns that Israel is gradually turning from an asset to a burden for American foreign policy. Speaking before the Israeli Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Meir Dagan said it was obvious to him that “Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden”. The former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commander, who has led the Mossad since 2002, remarked that every year since the end of the Cold War there are progressively “fewer Israeli assets in the US”. The importance of Israel in US foreign policy was “greater when there was conflict between the blocs”, said the Mossad chief, “while this year there has [again] been a decrease” in Israel’s significance. He went on to lament the 2008 election success of US President Barack Obama, which was “a declaration that [the US] was adopting a softer approach and did not want to use force to solve conflicts”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #366 (Gaza flotilla edition III)

  • Israel insists Hezbollah members were on flotilla. Israeli officials are privately saying that they had intelligence that Hezbollah operatives were hidden among the crew and passengers of several Gaza Freedom Flotilla ships. The plan, they say, was to board all the ships, bring the flotilla to Ashdod, and then deal separately with the Gaza activists and alleged Hezbollah members.
  • Analysis: Flotillas and the wars of public opinion. In the aftermath of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre, “[t]he Israeli threats against Iran will be seen in a different context, and Israeli portrayal of Iran will hold less sway over the world”, says StratFor.
  • Turkey compares flotilla massacre to 9-11. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu drew a parallel between the Israeli raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and September 11, 2001. “Psychologically this attack is like 9/11 for Turkey,” he said. Meanwhile, as two more aid ships are approaching Gaza, an anonymous senior Israeli Navy commander told The Jerusalem Post that Israel will “use more force next time”.

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Former Mossad officer calls Israel’s flotilla raid ‘stupid’

Victor Ostrovsky

Victor Ostrovsky

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A former officer in Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has criticized Monday’s raid by Israeli forces on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla as a failure “on every level”. Victor Ostrovsky, who worked as a case officer for the Mossad during the 1980s, described the raid as an act that was “so stupid it is stupefying”. Speaking to The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein, the former Mossad operative suggested that the early-morning operation, which killed at least 10 and wounded nearly 100 aid volunteers of various nationalities, was probably carried out by Shayetet 13, an elite commando unit of the Israeli Navy. He described Shayetet 13 as “one of the top units in the Israeli military”, which nevertheless failed in its mission to take over the ship convoy without resorting to a bloody mayhem. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #365 (Gaza flotilla edition II)

  • Palestinian Authority to send delegation to Gaza. The Fatah-controlled Palestinian National Authority will send a delegation to Gaza “in the next few days” to try to reconcile with Hamas, in the aftermath of Israel’s assault on a flotilla of ships trying to break the Gaza blockade.
  • Egypt lifts its side of Gaza blockade for aid. The Egyptian government is temporarily lifting its blockade of the Gaza Strip to allow aid into the area, a day after Israel raided an international flotilla carrying supplies to the Palestinian territory and killed nine activists. The key word is “temporarily”.
  • Palestinian Authority to continue talks with Israel. The Palestinian National Authority leadership in the West Bank refrained Monday from suspending the upcoming proximity talks with Israel, despite the uproar over the Israel Navy raid on the Gaza aid flotilla Monday, in which nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed.

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News you may have missed #364 (Gaza flotilla edition I)

  • Israel abducts nine American citizens on Gaza flotilla. As many as nine Americans may have been aboard the Gaza relief flotilla attacked in international waters by the Israeli Navy, and are now being held by Israeli authorities, a US State Department official has said. It is said that among them is former US Ambassador Edward Peck. The White House has so far refrained from issuing a statement on the abducted US citizens.
  • US blocks Security Council criticism of Israeli raid. Israel faced heavy criticism in an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council on Monday, in response to its deadly attack on the aid flotilla trying to breach the Gaza blockade, but attempts to issue a formal statement stalled after the United States rejected the strong condemnation.
  • Australian citizen shot in Israeli raid. Bilateral relations between Israel and Australia, which are already at a low point, are set to worsen after an Australian citizen was shot during the deadly attack by the Israeli Defense Forces on the Gaza relief flotilla on Monday. Australia recently expelled

the Israeli Mossad representative in Canberra, after confirming that the Israeli spy agency had illegally forged at least four Australian passports.

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Could Turkey invoke NATO clause over Israeli attack on flotilla? [updated]

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Tayyip Erdoğan

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
IntelNews hears there is some speculation in diplomatic circles that the government of Turkey may try to involve the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in its dispute with Israel, which began after Israeli commandos killed several Turkish citizens in international waters yesterday. Up to 19 civilians are thought to have been killed during an early dawn raid by Israeli Defense Forces commandos on a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza in defiance of the four-year-old Israeli blockade. The fact that the deadly raid took place in international waters prompted Ankara to call for an emergency meeting of NATO’s 28 member states. A NATO spokesperson confirmed that ambassadors from all 28 member states, Turkey included, will be attending an emergency meeting today in Brussels, Belgium. Read more of this post

US prevented Israel from bombing arms ship, says paper

The Francop

The Francop

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Israel wanted to bomb a German cargo ship, which allegedly carried tons of weapons from Syria and Iran to Lebanon, but the plan was “rejected” by US intelligence, according to a London-based Arabic-language newspaper. An article in last Friday’s Asharq Alawsat appears to confirm earlier speculation that the ship, which was seized by Israeli commandos in a predawn raid on Wednesday off the coast of Cyprus, was first brought to the Israelis’ attention by US intelligence agencies on October 18. The newspaper alleges that the raid by Israeli commandos took place only after the US rejected an Israeli suggestion to bomb the ship while it was sailing through the Red Sea. An air attack on the cargo ship, named Francop, would have undoubtedly caused a multinational diplomatic episode. The vessel is reportedly German, leased by Greek-Cypriot charter company UFS Shipping International, and was sailing under the flag of Antigua & Barbuda, with an Egyptian crew and a Polish captain. Read more of this post

Israeli commandos seize ship allegedly carrying tons of weapons

Israeli commandos

Israeli commandos

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A ship apprehended off the coast of Cyprus by Israeli commandos in a predawn raid on Wednesday was carrying hundreds of tons of weapons, according to the Israeli Navy. Israeli military officials told a press conference in Tel Aviv that the ship was loaded with “40 containers filled with 300 tons of weapons each”, hidden under several rows of civilian goods. Israel insisted that the weapons, which include missiles and rockets, originated from Iran and Syria and were bound for Hezbollah, the Shiite Islamic political and paramilitary organization that controls large parts of Lebanon. But the Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, called the Israeli commandos “pirates” and said the seized ship was heading from Syria to Iran, carrying only civilian goods. Israel has yet to release evidence of the ship’s contents, or even name. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0109

  • Somali pirates have spies in London shipbroking. A report compiled by European military intelligence agencies says that Somali pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden and more recently the Indian Ocean have well-placed informers in London, a world center for shipbroking and maritime insurance. They also regularly use satellite phones and GPS tracking systems to zero in on their targets.
  • Canada denies entry visa to Russian official due to KGB ties. Mikhail Margelov, who heads the foreign affairs committee of the Russian parliament, was invited to participate in the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas (FIPA) in Ottawa. But upon applying for an entry visa he was warned it could be denied because of his KGB ties. Observers say this episode may be indicative of a shift in Russo-Canadian relations.

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Ukrainian spies seek extended powers to operate abroad

Malomuzh

Malomuzh

By IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
Colonel General Mykola G. Malomuzh, the Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine (SZRU), has announced that his agents are seeking extended powers to perform activities abroad. The head of Ukraine’s premier intelligence organization said his operatives are in need of “new national legislation that will create the conditions necessary for [intelligence] work abroad”. Mr. Malomuzh said SZRU aims to extend its operations in areas of the world where “there are new threats”, including warzones and “terrorist-controlled territories”. He also said the initiative for expanded spy powers emerged after the capture last September of Ukrainian ship MV Faina by pirates off the Somali coast. The ship was recently released, after the pirates were given over $3 million in ransom money. However, the case led to international embarrassment for Ukraine, after the pirates publicized the captured ship’s freight manifest, which revealed that MV Faina was carrying military hardware for use by the genocidal government of Sudan, through Kenya. Speaking about the ship’s capture, the head of SZRU revealed that Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko had ordered SZRU agents and others to travel to the Somali coast and free the ship by any means necessary.