Winograd Report on Lebanon War Criticizes Israel Israel's Winograd Commission — which investigated the Israeli government's conduct during the war in Lebanon in 2006 — has issued its final report. It is critical of both the Israeli government and the Israeli army. Especially controversial are the final 36 hours of the war.
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Winograd Report on Lebanon War Criticizes Israel

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Winograd Report on Lebanon War Criticizes Israel

Winograd Report on Lebanon War Criticizes Israel

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

In Israel today, some sharp criticism for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the country's army. It came in a long-awaited report on the 2006 war with Hezbollah guerillas in south Lebanon. The report stopped short of calling on Olmert to resign.

And as NPR's Linda Gradstein reports, most analyst say the prime minister is expected to survive the coming political storm.

LINDA GRADSTEIN: In its more than 600-page report, the government-appointed commission said there were, quote, "serious failings and shortcomings in how decisions were made." A hundred and fifty-five Israelis, most of them soldiers, and more than 1,000 Lebanese were killed in the month-long fighting. The report said the war ended without a clear Israeli military victory, and that a few thousand Hezbollah guerillas were able to resist the strongest army in the Middle East. An earlier interim report focused on the decision to go to war. This report focuses on the last few days of the war.

Israel launched an extensive ground operation deep into south Lebanon even though it knew a United Nations-brokered ceasefire was imminent. Thirty-three Israelis were killed in that operation.

In a news conference, retired district court Judge Eliyahu Winograd said the ground operation did not achieved its objectives.

Mr. ELIYAHU WINOGRAD (Former Acting Supreme Court Judge, Israel): (Through translator) The ground operation did not stop the rocket fire or change the overall result of the war. All know the idea failed to provide an effective military response.

GRADSTEIN: In a statement, the army spokesman said the army is, quote, "fully aware of the failures and lessons that were revealed, and is already engaged in a process of correction." Soon after the war ended, both the chief of staff, Dan Halutz and Defense Minister Amir Peretz resigned. That leaves Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The interim report had accused Olmert of a, quote, "severe failure in judgment and responsibility and of rushing into war after eight Israeli soldiers were killed and two others captured on the border between Israel and Lebanon." There has still been no information on the fate of those soldiers.

Today's report said Olmert's decision to launch the extensive ground operation at the end of the war was reasonable and have legitimate goals. Olmert's office said he would implement all of the report's recommendations. Although easier on Olmert than expected, the report is still likely to lead to pressure on the prime minister to resign. Taking the lead are a group of parents whose sons were killed during the war. Riva Muskal told Israel television she originally supported the war and the prime minister. But she said she soon changed her mind.

Ms. RIVA MUSKAL (Slain soldier's mother): Suddenly, we heard what's happening in the war. It was when my friends came to us and told how things were going on the war. And neighbors' friends, family - and we understood that something very big happened. That it's not a war that we thought that it was.

GRADSTEIN: She said Olmert should resign - a call echoed by the opposition Likud party. The key will be Defense Minister Ehud Barak, head of the center-left labor party. He had promised to pull his party out of Olmert's coalition if the final report was critical, causing the government to fall. But analyst say Barak knows that the Israeli public doesn't want a new election. And if one were held, his labor party has little chance of winning. So despite the criticism and despite Olmert's low popularity rating, his government is expected to hang on.

Linda Gradstein, NPR News, Jerusalem.

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