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Posted at 8:50 PM ET, 06/ 1/2010

Former Mossad agent ridicules Gaza ship raid

By Jeff Stein

The Israeli commando attack on a civilian flotilla was “so stupid it is stupefying,” says former Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky.

Ostrovsky spent six years in the Israeli navy, rising to the rank of lieutenant commander before Mossad recruited him in 1982. He quit after four years and in the 1990s he wrote two highly critical, first-person books about the intelligence service.

Monday’s raid on a seaborne civilian aid mission to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which left nine dead and about 75 wounded, was carried out by the Israeli navy’s commando unit, “Shayetet 13,” Ostrovsky said.

"It's a fantastic unit. ... It was not typical of Flotilla 13,” he said, using the English translation for Shayetet, which he called “one of the top units in the Israeli military.”

Members of the unit “have trained extensively for overtaking a ship," he said. "However, their training was directed at overtaking a hijacked ship.”

Evidently the tactics weren't adjusted for this mission.

"Mossad probably had more than one man on board" the ships, Ostrovsky said, secret agents who would have been giving Israeli mission planners an accurate picture of what was happening on the vessels.

Were their reports ignored?

"At this point," says Jeffrey White, a former Middle East analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, "it is hard to say if this was a failure of collection, assessment or operational preparation."

"My sense is that somewhere in the process from collection to conduct, the notion that this would be an action against moderate opposition became fixed ...."

“The mistakes were on every level,” said Ostrovsky, “from the order to forcefully board outside the territorial waters to the actual attack.”

Responsibility for the raid, which has provoked widespread condemnation and a diplomatic uproar, should be laid at the feet of “the shoot-from-the-hip prime minister,” Ostrovsky said -- Binyamin Netanyahu, whom he blamed for two previous messy intelligence operations in Dubai and Jordan.

Flotilla 13’s typically careful planning, he speculated, was supplanted by orders from Netanyahu or his ultra-conservative foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, to “do something now.”

“Nobody can do a good job in a rush,” he said.

Stopping the flotilla in international waters was “a grave mistake,” Ostrovsky said.

“Why not wait? They knew where it was going.”

Ostrovsky, who developed missile capabilities for Israeli gunboats, said there were several, far safer, alternatives to sending black-clad commandos rappelling onto the ship from frightfully noisy helicopters in the middle of the night.

The commandos could have easily sneaked up to the ships and boats from behind in “wet submarines” (which look like open torpedoes) and disabled their propellers, he said.

“Eventually they’d run out of food and water and they could be towed to shore,” said Ostrovsky, now chief executive of TheBookPatch.com, a Web site for writers.

Ostrovsky said it was also inexplicable that the commandos were sent to land on the top decks in the middle of the ships, where they were vulnerable to resistance from terrified and angry passengers and crew. A better tactic would have been to have the commandos board from the stern and bow and work inward.

In any event, the episode has become a public relations debacle for Israel, Ostrovsky said.

“We look like the British stopping the Exodus,” he said.

The 1960 blockbuster movie, based on a best-seller by the same name, dramatized the efforts of 611 Jewish refugees to defy a British blockade of occupied Palestine after World War II.

By Jeff Stein  | June 1, 2010; 8:50 PM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy, Intelligence, Military  
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Comments

It doesn't matter what actually happened during the attack. All that matters is how the media will spin this event. Already most mainstream media is suggesting that Israel was justified. It will be nearly impossible for the protesters to change that line of thinking. The US Government has become part of occupied Israeli territory.
Hoa binh

Posted by: since1492 | June 2, 2010 6:42 AM | Report abuse

PNAC Netanyahu helped Bush and Cheney commit 9/11. How smart could he be? He certainly isn't a true Jew.

Posted by: iamerican | June 2, 2010 7:15 AM | Report abuse

The attack is the result of Israel’s hubris and feeling of entitlement. They have played the anti-Semitic card for so long they think they can use that canard to silence any criticism of its actions, however repugnant and criminal. In their mind, they are special and can do no wrong. Such conceit eventually leads to a fall. They need to evaluate a proper response to Turkey; they can't afford to lose that Muslim ally.

Posted by: csintala79 | June 2, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Gee, big surprise that the Post would seek out a Mossad agent critical of Israel. I guess the partisan hacks at the Post don't really care about hearing from any of the Mossad agents who support the action.

The Post is a partisan joke, but we already knew that.

Posted by: bobmoses | June 2, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

bobmoses wrote>>>I guess the partisan hacks at the Post don't really care about hearing from any of the Mossad agents who support the action.

It's assumed most Mossad agents supported the action. The "news" is that at least one FORMER Mossad agent didn't.
There aren't many headlines screaming "No airplanes crashed today!" - but when one crashes, it's considered news.
Get it?

Posted by: angie12106 | June 2, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

bobmoses wrote>>>I guess the partisan hacks at the Post don't really care about hearing from any of the Mossad agents who support the action.

It's assumed most Mossad agents supported the action. The "news" is that at least one FORMER Mossad agent didn't.
There aren't many headlines screaming "No airplanes crashed today!" - but when one crashes, it's considered news.
Get it?

Posted by: angie12106 | June 2, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

"Already most mainstream media is suggesting that Israel was justified."

What planet do you live on?

Posted by: bobmoses | June 2, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

@bob moses: The Post is a partisan joke, but we already knew that.

###

If it's a joke, then why are you here reading it?

Posted by: handsome2 | June 2, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

@bob moses: The Post is a partisan joke, but we already knew that.

###

If it's a joke, then why are you here reading it?
=========================================
I don't know about Bob,,but I read the Real News from other sources first and then I read this..just to get a laugh to see what news that they're not telling their readers...

Posted by: micholina | June 2, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

imagine what would "free american media" do if iran attacked and killed 10 unarmed civilians on a ship sailing international waters. Now do you still think american media is free?

Posted by: MumboJumboo | June 2, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Every once in a while, I'll come across an Israeli news item from an Isael based newspaper that will knock the current government. I think this gentleman's critique fits with that mindset. Hey, Netanyahu is the result of Israel's last election, so Israelis need only look in the mirror if they want to know who to blame for this mess.

Posted by: Puller58 | June 2, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

>>>>Gee, big surprise that the Post would seek out a Mossad agent critical of Israel. I guess the partisan hacks at the Post don't really care about hearing from any of the Mossad agents who support the action. The Post is a partisan joke, but we already knew that.

>>>>"Already most mainstream media is suggesting that Israel was justified."
What planet do you live on?
Posted by: bobmoses | June 2, 2010 9:13 AM


I would hope the planet of I Can Think For Myself, Thank You--

Ostrovsky is an ex-Mossad agent who has become a critic of current Israeli security policy and Mossad (though not necessarily Israel itself). So what? In the article, doesn't he make several substantive points anyway about how badly bungled this operation was, strategically and tactically? (I assume you read the piece-- his points about the noisy helicopter approach and the fact that they decided to board the vessel in international waters in particular seem to me the biggest blunders here.) And how high an opinion could anyone really have of your hypothetical Mossad agents who-- in their fervent support of this action-- would have done everything over exactly the way it was actually carried out?

The WP political filter is partisan and left of center-- no kidding?! Fortunately I can also listen to "the mainstream media" (read: Fox News) and distill out their reasonable arguments without having to drink that Kool-Aid.

Posted by: WilliamOfBaskerville | June 2, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Israel WAS justified in boarding that ship, even in international waters. A country conducting a blockade has that right according to international law. The fact that it degenerated into a political blunder does not negate the fact that Israel was legally enforcing the blockade.

Posted by: sboyd18 | June 2, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Piracy is piracy even when engaged in by a state actor. Attacking in international waters was a grave mistake indeed.

Posted by: herrbrahms | June 2, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Israeli's actions are not to be questioned. After all our conservative queen of morons Sara Palin firmly stated that she would never question Israeli on anything they did in their own defense. Or the subjugation of another people. After all what the Germans did to them give them a free pass to do the same. Right Sara?

Posted by: TheRufusFiles | June 2, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Too bad the commandos didn't kill all the scumbags on the ship. Troublemakers, every last one. Watch the video and see for yourself.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | June 2, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

It is dubious whether this guy was a Mossad agent. Read the wikipedia article about him.

Posted by: person2 | June 2, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

this guy ostrovsky is right. the israelis put these two bozos in charge and look what is happening. when you feel and think you are indestructible, that's when you start to be destructible. the first sign of stupidity would be doing this raid in international waters.

Posted by: RIVASF1@WESTAT.COM | June 2, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

All of you who support sending Commandos in a night raid, with guns drawn, against civilians are complicit in the brutality and miscalibrated responses of Israel.

Do not complain when you reap what you sow. Not a word.

Posted by: Thinker_ | June 2, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Since none of you armchair intel types knows diddly about how things work in Israel, here is something for you to mull over. Anyone signing on to work in the protective services, either Shabak (Israeli FBI) or Mossad, signs a seven-year commitment. If Ostrovsky spent only four years in the Mossad he had to have been kicked out for any number of reasons including incompetence or even spying for another country, say for example, Russia.
Landing a helicopter in the middle of the night is a tactic that Shayetet soldiers know and drill on often. It's the noise, stupid, not the "Here we are!" surprise that is effective. All of the IDF's greatest and most successful operations were done at night.
As for Stein's reporting, he is still amateurish at best and lame at worst. He did not talk to anyone directly involved with Shayetet's actual operations as those are highly classified and not under the purview of the Mossad in the first place, except in a supporting role. The IDF has two superior counter-intelligence fighting units, the Shayetet and Sayeret Matkal where Bibi Netanyahu trained and spent their army time as did his late brother, Yoni. He is no one's dummy in intel matters. Suffice it to say the army will conduct its own hearings on the matter and draw its own conclusions. This is why the IDF is STILL the best fighting force in the world. It remains to be seen whether it was an intel breakdown or an operational failure, or both, but it is highly doubtful a disgruntled crank like Ostrovsky would know. All I do know is Avigdor Lieberman had nothing to do with the decisions affecting the Navy. The first soldiers descended with paintguns, not loaded weapons. They were not trying to kill anyone. They acted in self-defense and maintained their "purity of arms" as they are bound to do by the IDF Code of Ethics.

Posted by: rlgrennie1 | June 2, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

RE: "....Jewish refugees to defy a British blockade of occupied Palestine after World War II...."

Wouldn't it be more accurate to say something like..."..British blockade of British Mandate Palestine..."?..a blockade which was intended at that time by the British to curtail Jewish immigration into British Mandated Palestine in order to placate the Arabs.

A lot of propaganda is created by spinning such nuanced terms as "occupied".

...a related subject is that these refugees aboard the "Exodus"...had been in British refugee "camps" after being liberated from Nazi concentration camps.

"...occupied.." is a loaded word.


Posted by: CharlesGriffith1 | June 2, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Rigrenni1-

Victor Ostrovsky is neither incompetent, nor a spy for another country. He ran field agents for the Mossad, didn't like what he saw, resigned and moved to Canada (he is Canadian by birth). After he wrote his expose of the Mossad, he was sued by the Israeli government, trying to prevent publication of his book. He left Canada and came to the United States, where he continued to write about the Mossad (and several other books).

I've known Victor for 15 years and he is about as honest a person as you would know.

And really: paintguns? An elite Mossad unit going onto a ship with paintguns? In international waters? I don't know what you've been snorting, but maybe it's time for a reality check.

Posted by: bspringgate | June 2, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Stupid? I don't believe it, I call it criminally deceptive. Killing was premeditated believing it would deter future floatellas, maybe that is stupid, I believe it will increase the resistance like the Kent State murders in 1970, which was premeditated under the same misconception.

"Mossad probably had more than one man on board" the ships, Ostrovsky said, "It's a fantastic unit. .. “one of the top units in the Israeli military.” Not likely they did not know if there was a lynch mob waiting, nor that they lost control and were "forced to protect themselves".

"Ostrovsky said it was also inexplicable that the commandos were sent to land on the top decks in the middle of the ships---but it was perfect for making a video---agent provocoteurs could arrange the scene, or could the video have been acted out after they secured the ship. "Flotilla 13’s typically careful planning--"

“Why not wait? They knew where it was going.” The ships have been preparing for months, there was plenty of time to plan, the advantage of attacking the ships far from land is to keep it out of site of media or any opposition which surely have been present if they waited until they were close to land.

The hasbara line about the poor recruits being forced to kill in self defense smells, but it sells at home and abroad


Posted by: johnofcolorado | June 3, 2010 3:26 AM | Report abuse

iamerican wrote>>> PNAC Netanyahu helped Bush and Cheney commit 9/11. How smart could he be? He certainly isn't a true Jew.

-------

The words booger eating moron come to mind

Posted by: john_bruckner | June 3, 2010 7:07 AM | Report abuse

They murdered an unarmed American with four shots to the head.

The true face of Israel is revealed to the world.

This week, Israel has through it actions made itself the most hated nation on earth.

Can the whole world be wrong?

Posted by: Sion1 | June 3, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I've come across a curious investigation, carried out by some Israeil historian named Schlomo Sand (here's the wiki-article about him — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schlomo_Sand). He considers the roots of the conflict to lie at the the so-called "deadend of the national mythologization".

I've come to know about the guy here — http://www.win.ru/en/ideas/4549.phtml

Posted by: last_boy_scout | June 7, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

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