The probes level sharp criticism at the IDF for failures in managing the 32-day military conflict, which began with the cross-border kidnappings of Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser by Hizbullah. During the war, more than 4,000 katyusha rockets were fired on northern Israel, temporarily displacing nearly 2 million residents.
The latest inquiry, authored by former Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Shomron, cites the IDF for waiting five days before declaring a state of war, failing to set up a standard war room in the underground bunker of IDF headquarters, and failing to properly identify the extent of the katyusha threat early into the conflict.
In addition, Shomron criticizes the delay in calling-up reserve soldiers, and specifically Lt.-Gen. Halutz’s inability to convince politicians of the need for such a call-up.
Yet, while the report cites critical flaws in the management of the war, Shomron does not recommend that any individuals be held personally responsible for the failures. Upon his appointment to conduct the inquiry, Shomron told Army Radio that he did not consider it his place to make personal recommendations.
Recently, Shomron has told confidants he believes the current staff will learn from the lessons of the failed conflict, and will let those generals in place decide for themselves whether or not to continue leading the IDF.
The report is seen as an encouraging sign for Halutz, who has heard calls for his resignation from across the political and military spectrum.
Other IDF inquiries into the war failures, including those conducted by Maj.-Gen (ret.) Amiram Levine and Maj.-Gen. Udi Shani-Shinotar, have laid much harsher criticism on the IDF’s management team, citing failures to create an effective battle plan. Furthermore, Shani-Shinotar reported that Halutz issued commands that were at times contradictory and confusing, adding that in certain cases the orders were changed hourly.
Media reports last week hinted at Halutz’s impending resignation, but military sources now suggest Halutz will continue to serve as Chief of Staff until the government concludes its own self-appointed war inquiry headed by former Supreme Court Justice Eliyahu Winograd.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his cabinet elected to perform war investigations internally, as opposed to conducting an independent State Commission of Inquiry—a standard practice following any extended military conflict.
During a graduation ceremony for Air Force cadets Thursday, Halutz praised the entire inquiry process which he believes is the best way for the IDF “to improve and progress.” Halutz added, “No inquiry of this kind has ever been carried out in the IDF, with the intention of becoming a better army.”