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Israeli Army Inquiry Cites Failures of Lebanon War


The Israeli army has completed a series of internal probes into the war in Lebanon, which was fought in July and August of last year. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, the final report is highly critical of the handling of the war but does not recommend the dismissal of the military brass.

Summing up 50 internal military inquiries, Israeli army Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Dan Halutz said there were major failures during the war in Lebanon.

He said Israel failed to achieve its main objectives of dealing a knockout blow to the Islamic guerrilla group Hezbollah and preventing it from firing rockets across the border. Hezbollah fired more than 4,000 rockets at northern Israel during the 34-day conflict.

Halutz said a major ground offensive should have been launched earlier and that there was faulty work in command centers.

But he rejected calls from across the political spectrum to resign.

Halutz said to resign would be to run away from the problems, and he would rather stay on "to fix what needs to be fixed."

Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens says that is the wrong decision.

"The army is in need of a serious shakeup," he said. "There were many difficulties and many failures during the war. The war itself was a failure. And until we have a change right at the top, I do not foresee that what needs to be done will be done."

The findings of the inquiry are a cause for concern here, because Israel faces looming confrontations with Islamic militants in Lebanon and Gaza, and with Iran. The question many Israelis are asking is whether the army will be prepared for the next war.

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