The presence of the Hamas headquarters
in Jordan and its extensive activities from this base have presented Israel
with a major problem. The decision to carry out the attack in Jordan was based
on the principle that no place in the world should be allowed to serve as a
safe harbor for those who plan to carry out murders and acts of terror in
Israel. Israel will act against those who seek to harm Jews, wherever they may
In this, the current Israeli
government follows the policy of previous governments. The commission does not
question this policy, but nevertheless proposes that the government discuss
it, define its scope, and establish ground rules for its implementation.
The operation in Jordan was planned
on the following assumptions: the operational plan must ensure that its
successful execution does not leave any tracks that would incriminate Israel
directly; in terms of the intelligence community, it must be a
"silent" operation; the possibility of failure of the operation, and
its implications, were hardly addressed by the Mossad planners and their
Peace between Israel and Jordan, and
ways to deepen and underpin it, are a cornerstone of Israel's foreign policy.
Even in the case of a mishap, the foundations of the Israel-Jordan
relationship would not be fundamentally harmed. The planners of the operation
assumed that the probability of failure was minuscule. They were aware that
the relations that had developed following the peace treaty with Jordan were
of prime importance to the authorities of both countries and firmly believed
that the "silent" operation, as planned, could in no way harm the
King or the Hashemite government in Jordan.
The various heads of the intelligence
community, as well as the majority of witnesses who appeared before us, shared
these basic assumptions, although they did not necessarily all agree with the
timing of the operation.
Several factors came together leading
to the failure of the operation in Jordan, the main one being the conceptual
fixation prevailing in the Mossad, at the various levels involved in planning,
approving, and carrying out the operation. It was generally believed that the
weapon in question and its mode of use were almost infallible. The weapon was
silent and had no immediately evident effect upon the target. It was assumed
that the proposed operation would be effective without anybody being
immediately aware of it. Furthermore, if for any reason the attack was
aborted, the weapon in the hands of the assailant, looking innocent enough
(unlike, say, a handgun), would not expose the fact that an attempt had been
made and would thus not lead to anybody pointing an accusing finger at Israel.
This concept of a "silent
operation", with minimal chances of failure, hardly took into account the
possibility that it could fail for any reason and turn into a
"noisy" one. The planning, plans, and preparations did not seriously
consider such a possibility, nor was this aspect sufficiently emphasized when
the plan was presented to the Prime Minister. The plan should not have been
formulated in this manner in the first place and should certainly not have
been presented as such to the Prime Minister. The commission found flaws in
the planning of the operation in Jordan, the preparations for its launch, in
the theory behind the handling and application of the lethal substance and the
weapon, and in the coordination of the operation between the various branches
of the intelligence community.
In the course of its work, the
commission identified several structural and system defects in the Mossad,
which, in its view, contributed to the creation of those erroneous
conceptions, with resulting faulty methods and procedures. The commission
dealt with these issues at considerable length in its report, following up
with many recommendations, most of which are highly classified for obvious
reasons and which cannot therefore be made public.
The commission also addressed the
matter of coordination between the services within the intelligence community,
with particular reference to the modus operandi of the Heads of Services
Committee, and has made certain recommendations.
The commission addressed the issue of
the establishment of a National Security Council, concluding that it was very
doubtful whether, in the present circumstances, it would be appropriate and
practical to create such a body, and therefore does not recommend that such a
council be established at this point.
The commission examined and made
certain recommendations related to the intelligence advisory functions in the
Prime Minister's Office. The commission recommends that an assistant for
intelligence and security, with a rank equivalent or close to that of a major-
general in the Israel Defense Forces [IDF], be appointed to serve the Prime
Minister. This person should be an intelligence expert and should be
responsible for dealing with the extensive flow of intelligence information to
the Prime Minister's Office. The assistant would serve as a direct link
between the Prime Minister and the heads of the intelligence services and
would be a regular member of the Heads of Services Committee. He would be in a
position to present to the Prime Minister the essence of the available
intelligence information and to draw his attention to any issues as required,
bearing in mind that the Prime Minister cannot be reasonably expected to
handle the large flow of intelligence information effectively, without a
modicum of expert assistance.
The head of the Mossad and the
division head in charge of the combat unit tried to convince us that their
conduct, as well as the plans and preparations made prior to the operation,
were flawless, and that the failure of the attempt resulted directly from
mistakes made by the combatants in the course of the operation. We have not
overlooked the fact that such mistakes were made, but feel that the combatants
should not bear the full responsibility for them. In fact, we have concluded
that their mistakes in the course of the operation were in large measure due
to flaws in conception and planning, in the ultimate operational plan as well
as in training for the operation. We have found that the head of the Mossad
and the division head bear a heavy responsibility in those matters.
When we arrived at the above
conclusions, we deemed it appropriate to advise the head of the Mossad and the
division head accordingly. We indicated the specifics of our conclusions to
them, and where we thought they had apparently been deficient, and that they
might in consequence be adversely affected by our conclusions. We requested
that they address these issues. They have done so, in writing, and we have
considered their responses in preparing our detailed observations and
conclusions in the report.
The Prime Minister
We are unanimous in conclusions
regarding the Prime Minister. In examining the conduct of the Prime Minister,
bearing in mind that the head of the Mossad reports to him directly, we tried
to define our own criteria, to help us analyze the process in which he
examined and approved the plans for the attack against Khalid Mashal.
To assist us in our analysis, we
compared the Prime Minister's handling of the case with the manner in which
similar cases had been handled in the past. In doing so, we reached the
conclusion that the Prime Minister had dealt with the case in a responsible
manner, having considered and examined the plans presented to him from every
possible aspect that might have been expected of him.
From the minutes of discussions held
in the Prime Minister's Office, we learned that the Prime Minister had
inquired about details of the plans as might have been expected of him. We
found that he repeatedly asked that the operation be coordinated with the
other heads of the intelligence community, to ensure that they be informed and
coordinated as necessary, and we are aware of the fact that a number of
discussions were held in the Prime Minister's Office before the plan was
approved and executed.
We also inquired whether the Prime
Minister's conduct in relation to the attack against Mashal was any different
from that of other incumbents in similar circumstances. We therefore studied
the relevant minutes regarding similar operations in the past and heard the
testimonies of former prime ministers. We reached the conclusion that the
Prime Minister's conduct in no way deviated from the norms and procedures
customary in similar cases in the past.
The commission also examined the
question of whether the Prime Minister had exerted any unreasonable pressure
to carry out the operation "Quickly and at any Cost", so that it
might serve as an immediate response to the terrorist attacks at the Mahane
Yehuda market and the pedestrian mall in Jerusalem. We reached the conclusion
that no unreasonable pressure had been exerted by the Prime Minister in this
We do not therefore find any flaw in
the conduct of the Prime Minister and the minister in charge of the Mossad.
The commission did not deem it
appropriate to delve into the question of the Prime Minister's ministerial
responsibility for the failure of the operation. This matter had already been
examined in the past by various investigating commissions, which determined
that the issue of political responsibility is not a matter for investigation
by commissions or other courts of inquiry, but rather within the purview of
relations between elected representatives and the electorate. In stating the
above, we do not imply that we have found any flaw, from the political aspect,
in the Prime Minister's conduct.
The Head of the Mossad
Dan Yatom was appointed to the
position of head of the Mossad approximately a year and half ago. His last
position prior to this appointment was military secretary to the Prime
Minister, with the rank of major-general in the IDF. He has devoted his entire
active life to the security of the State and to the Israel Defense Forces. Dan
Yatom has served, inter alia, in numerous combat command posts at the highest
level and has impressive achievements to his credit. We were impressed by Mr.
Yatom's appearance before us, his openness, and the manner in which he
addressed the issue.
Giving evidence, Dan Yatom addressed
the question of the extent to which the head of the Mossad must delve into
details of the plans of Mossad units before giving his approval. We did not
wish to answer this question in a general manner, but we are certain that
before approving a plan of the type in question, the head of the Mossad must
indeed study it in detail.
We found that the senior ranks
involved in approval of the plans within the Mossad and their presentation to
the Prime Minister were among the main factors leading to failure of the
operation. The commission noted a series of shortcomings and errors in the
Mossad's basic approach, leading to what was planned as a "silent
operation". These were evident in the planning process, in the structure
and composition of the plans, and in the manner in which the particular weapon
was treated in the plans.
We believe that the head of the
Mossad erred in his handling of the operation and in approval of the plan.
This should not have been structured as a "silent operation" without
providing for contingency measures should it become a "noisy" one.
The commission believes that the head
of the Mossad had enough time at his disposal to convene an additional orderly
discussion with the heads of the intelligence services, prior to the
operation, and that this should have been done. Nevertheless, the commission
is of the opinion that the heads of the intelligence community were indeed
informed by the head of the Mossad of a possible operation directed against
The head of the Mossad has extensive
experience and knowledge in the field of military operations and it might well
have been expected from him that before approving the plan, he would identify
and address its numerous shortcomings, which were revealed to us in the course
of our examination, and would act to rectify them, rather than approve them in
what was their final form. It would also have been appropriate that the head
of the Mossad inform the Prime Minister in greater detail of the operational
and political implications of carrying out the plan.
We should add that a significant part
of the military doctrine underlying the plan is the product of concepts and
practices developed and shaped in the Mossad over many years. The head of the
Mossad essentially continued to apply the existing planning, handling, and
execution procedures and processes previously formed and used in the Mossad.
Summary of the Majority Opinion of
We believe that in the context of our
functions as a commission of inquiry, we have thoroughly covered all that was
required of us concerning Dan Yatom, the head of the Mossad. We have spelled
out the matters in which we believe he erred and have enumerated the reasons
for these errors. We do not deem it appropriate to make any further
recommendations regarding him, as we believe that this should be left to the
government's discretion, after study of the facts and recommendations in our
report which, we think, speak for themselves
Summary of the Minority Opinion
Following the conclusions reached by
the commission, based on the material presented to it concerning the conduct
of the head of the Mossad and the measure of his responsibility in the failed
operation in Jordan, one cannot refrain from making more specific
recommendations. In fact, I believe it is the duty of the commission to do so.
In light of the above, I recommend that Mr. Dan Yatom be relieved of his
duties as head of the Mossad.
The Division Head in Charge of the
Combat Unit - [Majority Opinion]
The division head in charge of the
combat unit (H.) has much experience, with many successes to his credit, and
belongs in the list of unknown combatants to whom the State of Israel is
deeply indebted, whose numerous contributions cannot be publicly acknowledged.
He was in charge of the unit which
carried out the field operation against Khalid Mashal and was therefore
directly responsible for planning and approving the plans, and ordering their
execution, without adequate study and without making the most of all possible
sources of information to help ensure success.
This officer's main error was that he
did not identify the shortcomings in the plans and approved a plan which might
have perhaps been adequate for a "silent operation", not taking into
account the possibility that it might rapidly turn "noisy", for
various reasons. A "noisy" operation required a totally different
approach, and therefore at least part of the components of such an approach
should have been included as contingencies in the plan for the operation in
question. H. should not have approved this flawed and inadequate plan and
should have warned his superior more emphatically and indicated to him the
plan's shortcomings. In the course of the commission's work, the division head
announced that he had completed his intended term of service in his current
position and that he was in the process of retiring from the Mossad.
The commission deems it appropriate
to mention H.'s particularly impressive conduct before it and his complete
cooperation when giving evidence.