Friday, July 1, 2016

Editor's Notes: Turkey and the media war

Yaakov Katz,

Image from article, with caption: AN IDF soldier rappels onto the Mavi Marmara during the Navy raid in 2010.

The IDF released the video. It clearly showed how the soldiers had been attacked. The problem was that it was too late.

The first naval commando rappelled down from the Black Hawk helicopter onto the upper deck of the Mavi Marmara at approximately 4:30 a.m. While the rope dangled below, one commando after another landed smack into the middle of a mob of Turkish activists, armed with sticks, knives, bats and slingshots.
The operation was supposed to be simple. The commandos were supposed to board, take control of the bridge and then sail the Mavi Marmara to Ashdod Port, from where the activists would be deported back to Turkey and the humanitarian aid they were carrying – if there was any – would be transferred to the Gaza Strip.
However, nothing went according to plan. Lacking real-time intelligence, the navy was not aware of the arms – some 200 knives and 100 metal poles cut from the ship’s railings – that the ship’s passengers had readied for the fight.
By now, six years later, the rest is history.
When the raid ended, nine Turkish passengers were dead - one more would succumb later -, several navy commandos were wounded, and six years of an unprecedented diplomatic rift between Israel and Turkey – once the best of friends – had erupted. ...
A few hours after the raid, Danny Ayalon, then Israel’s deputy foreign minister, decided he had waited long enough. He was following coverage of the raid from around the world and realized that Israel was losing the battle over the narrative. While the IDF was claiming its commandos had been attacked and acted in self-defense, those statements were practically meaningless in light of the death toll among the so-called Turkish peace activists.
Ayalon decided that a press conference was needed to turn the tide of public diplomacy. He called the Defense Ministry at about 9 a.m. and urged officials there to immediately release the video. Ayalon knew that there was footage and that it was sitting in the IDF’s underground central command center beneath the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.
Matan Vilna’i, the deputy defense minister at the time, called Ayalon back.
“I’m going to convene a press conference and I need the video,” Ayalon said. Vilna’i told him that it would take time. While the navy had filmed the raid from nearby vessels, the video, he said, was being held up by the censor.
Ayalon finished the call asking Vilna’i to do everything possible to have the video ready for the 11 a.m. press conference he was planning to convene.
By 11 though, there was still no video. Instead, even though almost seven hours had passed since the raid, the navy was still fighting with the IDF Spokesperson whether the video should be released at all.
Senior navy commanders thought the video would damage the reputation of Shayetet 13, the elite naval commando unit, whose soldiers had conducted the raid. There were also arguments within the IDF’s media team regarding whether the video should be released early in the day or held until 8 p.m., the time of the local news shows.
Finally at 4 p.m., the IDF released the video. It clearly showed how the soldiers had been attacked. The problem was that it was too late. ...

No comments: