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Monday, August 21, 2006

Reservists, bereaved families protest war's conduct

Hundreds of reservists and bereaved families are protesting the conduct of the recent war in Lebanon. Public pressure is mounting for an independent committee of inquiry (a real one, not Comrade Peretz's attempted whitewash) to look into the war's conduct. And hundreds of reserve soldiers who served in Lebanon sent a letter of protest addressed to Defense Minister Amir Peretz and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz on Sunday, while two reservists led a protest march to the prime minister's office in Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Post reports on the reservists:
In the letter, they described a severe breach of trust between the leadership and the soldiers. "The management of the war," they wrote, "caused us to feel that they were spitting in our face."

The letter expressed frustration with the "indecision" that, the soldiers say, characterized their assignment in Lebanon. It also stated that the lack of a clear mission for their brigade in the final days of the war needlessly endangered their lives, Army Radio reported.

In a private meeting between Halutz and the commanders of the reserve Alexandroni Brigade, which fought in the western sector [and which didn't have water for 36 hours. CiJ], the officers of the brigade criticized the army's management over the last month.

Among other things, they described serious trust issues with the commanders, and told Halutz, "We need to rebuild the soldiers' trust in the system before it is too late." Many officers spoke about the inadequacy of the food and water supply in the battlefield.

On Sunday, Chief Infantry Officer Brig.-Gen. Yossi Hyman was the first senior IDF officer to admit the failure of the war in Lebanon. "I did not succeed in preparing the infantry well enough for war," he said, adding, "Sometimes we were guilty of the sin of vanity."

It appeared on Monday that a majority in the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee supported setting up a state (judicial) commission to investigate the war.

With the exception of members from Kadima - such as [traitorous CiJ] MK Otniel Schneller, who said that "the time is not right to devote our attention to an investigation committee, when the IDF and the state have to prepare for the next round" - the remaining committee members voiced their approval of setting up a state commission to probe the failures of the war.

Only the government has the power to appoint a state commission; however, the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee's approbation would put another layer of pressure on the government to form such a commission.

As of this report, 11 Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee members were in favor of the commission, and only three were against it.

Meanwhile, reservist Roni Tzvangenboim and his friend Assaf Dovidov led a protest march from the Castel on the outskirts of Jerusalem to the prime minister's office on Monday morning.

"We're not leaders - we're just the ones shouting first," Tzvangenboim said in an interview with Army Radio. He added that he believed many others would join them in the march.

Tzvangenboim said that the problem with the war was on a much wider scope than the issue of the inadequate food and weapon supply that other protesters were raising.

"The problem," he said, "is that there's no leadership. There's a strong army, with all the best technology in the world, with the bravest soldiers in the world…but there's no one who knows how to operate it."
YNet reports on the bereaved families:
Bereaved parents who lost their children in the war have embarked on a long march in memory of Egoz unit fighter Rafanel Muskal, killed at the beginning of the war. His father, Moshe Muskal, told Ynet: "It started as a march in memory of Rafanel…at the end, on Mount Herzl, we'll be demanding the prime minister's resignation, because even if this war had objectives, they were not achieved, and he must bear the responsibility."

The bereaved father has already sent a letter on the matter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

"Many parents who lost their sons in the war will join us," Muskal said, noting that the inability to secure the release of the abducted soldiers, the apparently temporary quiet on the northern border, and the loss of IDF life combine to constitute a failure.

"There are some here who see the snow on Mount Hermon (on the northern border) and think it's the Alps. They must realize there's a cruel enemy out there that must be defeated," he said, and added that many others have joined his call on the PM to quit.

"Olmert is being asked to go home without any commissions of inquiry and no PR spins. This demand is taking on a wide scope and it appears the entire nation is with us," Muskal said.

Should Olmert not resign, Muskal and other bereaved family members intend to arrive at the PM's Office in Jerusalem next week and stay there "until he realizes he must go home." [I think hell will freeze over before Olmert realizes that he has to go home. CiJ]
HaAretz has more on outgoing Brigadier General Yossi Hyman's criticisms:
"We were guilty of the sin of arrogance," Hyman said at the changing-of-the-guard ceremony at the Kastina base, where he was replaced by Brigadier General Yossi Bachar.


Hyman said that "despite heroic fighting by the soldiers and commanders, especially at the company and battalion level, we all feel a certain sense of failure and missed opportunity ... At times, we were guilty of the sin of arrogance. Everyone tells about his mission, but not what he didn't do and where he went wrong."

He added: "I feel the weighty responsibility on my shoulders. I failed to prepare the infantry better for war. I did not manage to prevent burnout among professional companies and platoons. I feel no relief whatsoever in the face of the array of excuses ... At this time, it is not easy being part of the system. Part of the public, and perhaps also parts of the leadership, is expressing lack of faith in us."

Hyman has always been considered an officer who never hesitates to express his opinion vociferously, a fact that frequently aroused the ire of the military establishment. At Sunday's ceremony, too, IDF Ground Forces Commander Benny Gantz said that now is the time for the army to move forward, not express remorse.
HaAretz had a full interview with Brigadier General Yossi Hyman on March 6. You can read it here.

This is sounding more and more like the post-Yom Kippur War period of late 1973-74. That was not a happy time in this country.

Update 6:09 PM

The text of the reservists' protest petition may be found here.


At 1:59 AM, Blogger Yorkshireminer said...

I personally do not see what the problem is Israel lost if you can call it lost, because it didn't go the way you expected it to go. You had the same problem with the Yom Kippur war. The Egyptian and the Syrians thought that they had discovered a set of tactics that would neutalised the Israeli way of war. That is what they are just tactics, static tactics. When the next time comes and it will as you well know. The Israel army will have found the answer. If they havn't then they will just have to use overwelming force as the Allies did at Monty Casino in Italy. Bint Jabel could have been wipped off the map in the first day if you had not been so squemish about civilian casualties. The Israeli army was fighting with one arm tied behind its back. Next time when the survival of Israel is at stake as in the Jom Kippur war, have not fear the gloves will come off and Israel will give them the thrashing that they deserve, hopefully this time the world will let them get on with it, and not save the Egyptian and Syrian armies from complete and utter humiliation. Then perhaps the Arabs will get the Message as the Germans did after World War II and realise that perhaps the way they were going about things was not the best way to win friends and influence people. I am not holding my breath.


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