By Jonathan Lis
Mossad Chief Meir Dagan said on Tuesday that Israel is progressively becoming a burden on the United States.
“Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden,” said Dagan, speaking before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Dagan said that the U.S. government has recently examined the possibility of coercing a settlement on Israel and the Palestinians, but retreated from the idea after realizing it would not lead to a peace agreement.
Meanwhile, a senior Israel Defense Forces officer also spoke at the committee meeting on Tuesday, explaining the details of the IDF’s operation on the Gaza flotilla on Monday.
He said that the army had decided against sabotaging a ship in the Gaza flotilla at the center of Monday’s deadly clashes, out of fear that the vessel would be stranded in the middle of the ocean and at risk of a humanitarian crisis.
The flotilla, carrying tons of aid, had set sail from Turkey on Sunday, with the intention of breaking Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip. Israel said Monday that it had repeatedly asked the convoy to turn back, and offered to deliver the aid via land, both of which were rejected by the convoy. Israel Navy troops boarded five of the six ships without incident before dawn Monday, but clashes erupted on the sixth boat, and nine passengers were killed.
During his briefing on the operation to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Colonel Itzik Turgeman hinted that the IDF had sabotaged the engines of the other five ships, saying that “they took care of them.”
He also noted that soldiers found pistols in the hands of two of the activists who were killed, along with empty casings.
Turgeman said that at 4:20 A.M. local time Monday, IDF troops had observed the Mavi Marmara and as the deck seemed quiet, assessed that the passengers on board were sleeping. In reality, the activists were waiting for the soldiers armed with clubs and other weapons.
The committee also heard further details about the naval operation, including that the officer in charge had photographed the head of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah, and sent the photo to Israel in order to refute rumors that he had been wounded or killed during the clashes. Turgeman also said that Israeli Arab MK Hanin Zoabi had tended the wounded on the ship.