Wednesday, January 30, 2008
"30/01/2008 A key report on the failure of the Second Lebanon war said that "while the decision to launch a major ground operation in the final days of the 2006 conflict was sound, the operation itself was incomplete and failed to reach its goals and potentials, although legitimate." The second Lebanon War ended without victory and the Israeli army did not provide effective response to Hezbollah rocket fire, Retired Justice Eliyahu Winograd, head of the commission of inquiry into the war's failures, told a press conference Wednesday evening.
"A serious and grave missed opportunity," Winograd called the war, saying that the fault "lies mostly with the military – but partially responsible for this is the weakness projected by the political echelon." The judge said that though the "strongest army in the Middle East" was faced with a small quasi-military organization, it failed to provide an effective solution to the incessant rocket fire on Israel's north. "The decision to go to war made without any strategy," the Winograd report said. The head of the commission admitted that his team's task to review the Second Lebanon War was a difficult one as it "didn't differentiate between top army brass and top state officials. The report however underlined great failures with the Israeli army, especially with the ground forces. "The Israeli army was not ready for any ground operation until the first week of August 2006," the Winograd report said adding that however the final ground operation was almost necessary and "its goals were justified." The Winograd report also blamed the political echelon for the failure saying "that the decision to launch a ground operation during the war was made by top state officials. In retrospect, the ground operation did not contribute to the war and it was badly managed." The final war report criticized both political and military commands for their conduct in securing the Israeli home front even before the war. "There were also severe failures in protecting the Israeli home front and all of these failures had started even before the launch of the Second Lebanon war," it added. The Winograd report praised the Israeli Air Forces for their "achievements" during the war. Judge Eliyahu Winograd concluded that the findings will help "deal with the Israeli society and the government in the future." Reflecting the worn-out state of the Israeli government and military leaders, the report said that "Israel cannot survive without leaders and an army that can deter opponents."The Second Lebanon War final report recommended changing decision-making between the army and the government. Nevertheless, the report pulled Prime Minister Ehud Olmert out of the abyss of popular criticism saying "many people owe Olmert apology for character assassination."
Shortly after the retired judge finished reading his report, the Likud party described the war report as severe adding that Olmert must resign.
Judge Winograd and the other four members of the governmental commission of inquiry have listened to 75 witnesses and reviewed tens of thousands of documents since their appointment in September 2005. The witnesses included decision makers, politicians, officer, government workers and public figures.
The committee was authorized to investigate the Second Lebanon War and the preparations for the war, including the conduct of previous governments and their handling of Hezbollah since the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. "