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IDF Appoints New Commander of Shayetet 13, Commando Unit Responsible for Mavi Marmara Massacre

Israel, the land of smoke and mirrors, named a new commander for its elite Shayetet 13 naval commando unit eight months ago.  Shayetet 13 is the equivalent of SEAL Team 6, which assassinated Osama bin Laden.  The Israeli force was responsible for the murder of nine Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara.

Out of fear of exposure to the gaze of the International Criminal Court, and to protect their security, Israel refuses to publicly name many of its military commanders or security officials.  Eight months ago the Israeli media called him “G.”  I called him by his real name, Lt. Col. Gur Schreibman.  The officer has been involved with many high profile counter-terror operations including the Mavi Marmara.  He also received a special Chief of Staff citation for his service during Operation Cast Lead.  One wonders who he had to assassinate to earn that.  Peace activists have given him a different type of “honor:” he’s ranked 67th out of 200 on a list of Israeli military commanders involved in Cast Lead.

A few days ago, the Israeli Navy held an official ceremony (Hebrew) handing off responsibility for Shayetet 13 from the current commander to Schreibman.  There’s even a video documenting the event.  But it’s one of the strangest videos I’ve ever seen.  When you watch it your first thought is that whoever did the video was four feet tall and didn’t aim the camera straight.  The entire video shows only the bodies of those filmed.  There are no heads.  There’s even a commander filmed speaking to the audience.  He too is headless.  One wonders why the IDF even bothered.  Does anyone want to watch a video of headless bodies?

I’m tempted to make a crack about this being an allegory for Israel’s overall military-security strategy.  But I’ll let it go at that.

But there is one obvious casualty of Israel’s cult of military secrecy: accountability.  If you don’t know who’s responsible for a possible war crime you can’t find them culpable.  This is what the Israeli security state prefers: anonymity and opacity.  And that’s precisely what I aim to combat.  Transparency, like sunshine, is the best disinfectant for such impunity.

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{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Daniel July 4, 2014, 5:42 AM

    Just out of curiosity – does the US publicly name the active commander of SEAL Team 6?
    does any country, for that matter, publicly name the active commander of its elite commando unit?

    • Richard Silverstein July 4, 2014, 7:52 PM

      Israel does not publicly name ANY IDF commanders or Mossad or Shabak officers. The U.S. is far more transparent.

      • Daniel July 5, 2014, 12:06 AM

        that’s nice, but you didn’t answer my question. You wrote that Shayetet 13 is the equivalent of SEAL Team 6. So can you name the commander of SEAL Team 6? Can you find a picture of the dude? it’s a simple question, really.

        And also “Israel does not publicly name ANY IDF commanders or Mossad or Shabak officers”. That is so incredibly not true I don’t even know how to react. After spending 5 seconds with Google – http://www.jpost.com/Defense/First-Druse-officer-to-command-Golani-Brigade-329705.
        you’ll find the names of 2 IDF infantry brigades active commanders in this link, publicly named by the IDF.
        So where did your statement came from?

        • Greta Berlin July 5, 2014, 1:54 AM

          Daniel… you have obviously not kept up with the the US does and who is named as commanders under Seal 6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8_WFVpmVXY and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgYcKr8hi9w
          A simple Wikipedia search will tell you a lot about Seal 6. http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Special_Warfare_Development_Group

        • Richard Silverstein July 5, 2014, 12:58 PM

          @ Daniel: All you had to do was look it up on Wikipedia. This article lists all of the commanders of SEAL Team 6 in one handy place. Go to town. Now I expect an acknowledgement of how wrong you were. And not an obfuscation but a direct acknowledgement.

          As for naming commanders, I can show you literally scores, if not hundreds of media articles which use one initial to refer to IDF commanders. My guess is that because the IDF wanted to showcase it was promoting an Israeli non-Jew, they felt they had to use his full name. Using an initial in this case would’ve made the article virtually meaningless.

          BTW, can you show me any news sources besides this blog which name unit heads of Mossad or Shabak?

          • Daniel July 5, 2014, 10:08 PM

            what did I wrote? “Just out of curiosity – does the US publicly name the active commander of SEAL Team 6?”
            ACTIVE. Active commander. Not former commander. Active commander.
            Do you get the difference?
            So I’ll ask again – Does the US publicly name the ACTIVE (as in, not former) commander of SEAL team 6? can you find a the name and picture of the dude? If you can’t, please acknowledge that you can’t. If you can, you’ll get a direct and full acknowledgement that I was wrong. Deal?

            And for the second part – you wrote “Israel does not publicly name ANY IDF commanders or Mossad or Shabak officers”. I don’t really know about Mossad or Shabak. If you say that all unit commanders are kept secret, I believe you. But you said that *ANY* IDF commander is not publicly named. Again, that is such B.S I was certain you had a slip-up, but it seems you actually think that. So – The commanders of all 4 infantry brigade are known (including those who took part in Operation Cast Lead, if you’re going to say that those are kept secret in particular). if you’ll venture into Hebrew Wikipedia you’ll even find the active commanders of all battalion of those brigade. You don’t even have to use your source to find that out. Google would do just fine.
            As you can see: names of commanders of regular fighting units are NOT A SECRET. Even the Jews among them.

            And the fact that you can show me a whole bunch of article where commanders are referred to by one letter is really nice, but that’s have NOTHING to do with what you wrote. Special forces commanders usually are kept not publicly named, that’s true.
            But that is not what you said. Learn how to make an argument. If you say that *ANY* IDF commander is not publicly named, and I show you there’s a lot that ARE named (including practically every commander of infantry corps excluding special forces)…. then you’re statement is dead wrong.
            Can we get nice honest acknowledgment of that?

          • Richard Silverstein July 6, 2014, 2:44 AM

            @ Daniel: Wikipedia lists the CURRENT active-duty commander of U.S. Special Forces as Adm. William Raven. USAF Special Operations Command current active-duty commadner is Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel. I’m sure if I spent any time doing this I could easily find the unit heads of many other U.S. “elite commando” units.

            The term used in English is “active duty,” not “active.” I didn’t understand what you were asking.

            Israel doesn’t name the active duty or retired commanders of Shayetet 13 or any of its elite forces. Take a look at the Wikipedia article for Shayetet 13 & tell me where the retired commanders are listed, let alone the active duty ones. As you’ve acknowledged, retired commanders of SEAL teams are publicly known.

            Nor does Israel name unit commanders or any personnel for Shabak or Mossad. Again this is not true of the U.S. where identities of non-covert personnel are generally publicly known.

            We’re done with this discussion & the thread is now closed to you. Do not publish again here. You may publish in other threads if you wish. Not this one.

  • Siusaidh July 4, 2014, 6:17 AM

    One point: why do you assume, on no evidence, that anyone assassinated OBL? Far more likely he died, probably in late 2001, of advanced kidney disease.

    • Steve July 4, 2014, 10:38 AM

      Why would you assume that readers here should be exposed to nonsensical theories

  • nessim dayan July 4, 2014, 6:33 AM

    Richard please read the piece penned by Gideon Levy in today’s friday july 4th in haaretz.
    israelis don’t want piece – DEAD ON –
    i see no difference between the leadership of egypt and israel’s – samo samo – shadow players – give the people cake and let US be the DECIDERS – Come hell or high water WE THE LEADERS HAVE THE ONLY TRUTH THAT MATTERS, POOH POOH EVERYONE ELSE THAT IS NOT MEMBER OF OUR CULT OF TERRORISM –
    i am afraid that Israel’s days are counted at this stage – and israelis are following the piper straight over the cliff and into oblivion.

  • Ron Temis July 4, 2014, 8:04 AM

    שייטת 13 are the real Jews today not ghetto Jews like you כל הכבוד לצה׳ל

    • Oui July 4, 2014, 9:02 AM

      Assassins are the real Jews as in the old days. Flaunting International Law, war crimes and crimes against humanity. I wish you a long life to witness the havoc Likud’s policy has wrought on Israel.

    • Richard Silverstein July 4, 2014, 7:46 PM

      @ Ron Temis: I find that so offensive that you’ve earned moderation. Future comments will only be published if they are civil & respect the comment rules.

      Actually, I have enormous respect for both Jews of the ghetto and of the Diaspora. It is the ‘Jews of the ghetto’ who preserved Judaism for a millenium. The Jews of Zion are a recent phenomenon & the jury is still out whether your Jewish type will last another 100 years, if that, at the rate you’re going.

  • Oui July 4, 2014, 8:50 AM

    Israel’s FM Avigdor Liberman declares Hamas leaders should be assassinated

    The Foreign Minister continued by stressing the need to go after the leaders of terrorism wherever they are saying, “We must lay hands on all those who perpetrated and encouraged the murder of the three teenagers, including [Hamas PM Ismail] Haniyeh and [Hamas leader Khaled] Mashaal.”

    He added that the two should consider themselves “legitimate targets.”

    The comments followed comments made by Liberman on Sunday where he said that only a full-scale return of Israeli control to Gaza would end the rocket fire.

  • Greta Berlin, Free Gaza movement July 4, 2014, 2:16 PM

    Thanks Richard for the great article. Watching the video was my laugh for the day, and that’s saying something, considering what the illegal Israeli squatters did to the Palestinian boy. I did want to make one correction for this article and future ones. The Israeli commandos murdered ten of our passengers, one an American citizen. They also wounded over 50 on board ALL six boats.

    • Ron Temis July 4, 2014, 6:10 PM

      [comment deleted–off topic]

    • Richard Silverstein July 4, 2014, 7:41 PM

      @ Greta Berlin: Thanks. I knew that. But for some reason I’ve repeated the “nine deaths” version so often here that I forgot another victim died of his wounds a few months ago.

  • Mary Hughes Thompson July 4, 2014, 7:21 PM

    Further to the comment above by my friend and colleague Greta Berlin, the tenth victim of the MAVI MARMARA massacre, Ugur Suleyman Soylemez, who had been in a comatose state since the attack by Israeli pirates in international waters four years ago, finally passed away a few weeks ago, without ever regaining consciousness. http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/middle-east/140524-comatose-mavi-marmara-victim-dies

  • Daniel July 6, 2014, 8:32 AM

    Holy crap, Richard, is it so difficult for you to admit that you’re wrong? everybody is wrong sometimes, what’s the big deal?

    1) SEAL team 6 active duty (thanks for the correction, I thought it was clear enough. my bad) commander. not anything else. YOU wrote that Shayatet 13 is the equivalent of SEAL team 6. Not me. And I’m still asking, for the 3rd time. And you still can’t answer, and refuse to admit that. what gives?

    2) There’s a big difference between naming a 60 year old Admiral who sits behind a desk and naming a commando unit direct commander who might take part in combat or special operations. I know you know that. come on.

    3) “Take a look at the Wikipedia article for Shayetet 13 & tell me where the retired commanders are listed” – sure. They are listed right at the bottom, under “מפקדי השייטת”. I know Hebrew isn’t your strongest side (hey, English is not mine, as you can probably tell), but still. It’s right there. again, what you wrote is completely wrong.

    4) and, obviously, no acknowledgment of your false statement that names of *ALL* IDF commanders are kept secret.

    P.S – Go ahead a moderate me. It’s really ok, I’m just writing this reply so you can read it.
    Admitting your mistakes will only make you look better. no shame in that. give it a try sometime.

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