Aftermath of Operation Cast Lead
Aftermath of Operation Cast Lead Israel News Photo: Archive

In its Friday edition, the Hebrew daily Maariv newspaper reveals that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has written a book about his experiences in Israeli politics – and he blames Israel's failure to totally incapacitate Hamas during Operation Cast Lead on bad advice given to him by, among others, Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Olmert says that initial estimates of the war effort indicated that overthrowing the Hamas terror regime in Gaza was a feasible goal, that could have been accomplished in a reasonable amount of time, and with relatively few Israeli casualties. But, writes Olmert, politicians with varying interests manipulated the information presented to the government, wildly exaggerating the expected number of Israeli casualties if the IDF continued its campaign to the heart of Gaza or retook the Philadelphi route in southern Gaza. Other disinformation surrounded the amount of time the IDF would require to achieve its goals, with some "experts" claiming it would take Israel months of tough battles to finish the job. Barak, writes Olmert, was among those behind the disinformation.

In the book, Olmert writes that he did not rely on the opinions of those opposed to the operation, but that he undertook his own investigation – and after speaking to commanders in IDF's southern forces, he was convinced that Israel could, and should, deliver a stunning blow to Hamas, to the point of uprooting it from Gaza altogether. But as the operation continued and pressure mounted, both in the media and the government, Olmert writes that he let himself be persuaded to declare a ceasefire – a move, he writes, that he regrets until today.

In response to Olmert's comments, Barak's office told Maariv that "Defense Minister Barak and the IDF personnel under his command operate according to the decisions of the government, as well as their decision-making capabilities and professional experience. The results of Operation Cast Lead are proof of this."