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‘Indians operated as if there were no hostages’

Israeli counter-terrorism experts have slammed the way India handled the hostage crisis in Mumbai, especially at Nariman House.

By: Agencies | Jerusalem |
November 30, 2008 3:01:19 pm

Israeli counter-terrorism experts have slammed the way India handled the hostage crisis in Mumbai, especially at Nariman House where Jewish people were taken as captive, saying the “colossal failure of intelligence” and slow operation meant there was “no chance” of rescue.

Acknowledging that Israel has never experienced a coordinated attack of such magnitude, the experts said India failed to contain the attacks and raided Nariman House too ‘lackadaisically’.

Eight Israeli hostages at Nariman House were found dead by commandos after they stormed the building sieged by terrorists.

“When terrorists attack more than seven sites simultaneously, it’s very hard to handle. However, this difficulty was compounded by the lack of prior intelligence, which is the colossal failure in this story. This was an organisation in which dozens of people were surely involved,” Maj. Gen.David Tzur, a former commander of the police’s counter-terror unit ‘Yamam’, told daily ‘Ha’aretz’.

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“To the Indians’ credit, they were determined and sought contact (with the enemy) all the time,” Tzur told the daily, addingthat a terrorist takeover of a hotel is “the nightmare of every counter-terrorism unit,” because it is hard to effectively “cleanse” so large a site.

However, the Israeli counter-terrorism expert was highly critical of the operation at Nariman House where he dubbed the twelve-hour battle to liberate the building “unreasonable”.

“There’s no chance in the world that captives will survive an incident that doesn’t end within minutes of the break-in,” he said.

The Indians apparently assumed that the hostages had already been killed, Tzur added.

Another counter-terrorism expert, ColLior Lotan, formerly a senior officer in the army’s elite Sayeret Matkal unit, said that the Indians “operated as if there were no hostages”.

“When you’re rescuing captives, you enter fast, with maximum force, and try to reach the hostages as quickly as possible, even at the price of casualties,” he said, adding “Here, they operated much more cautiously.”

“It is not clear why the area was not cleared of bystanders, or why the comparatively risky option of a helicopter-borne assault was chosen,” they reportedly said.

The explosion that blew in the ground-floor door occurred before soldiers landed on the rooftop, whereas for maximum effect, they should have occurred simultaneously, they noted.

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