If a truly independent Israeli government inquiry is commissioned to scrutinize all aspects of the Jewish state’s recent war against Hizbullah, the two Israeli political leaders most likely to undergo the most severe grilling are former prime minister Ehud Barak and the current premier, Ehud Olmert.
Hopefully, the following questions will be asked, beginning with Barak:
● Prime Minister Barak, as the most highly decorated soldier in Israel’s history, it should be safe to assume that you were always highly security-minded during your distinguished military career. How then, in 2000, could you have withdrawn the IDF’s presence in South Lebanon almost on a moment’s notice with no security guarantees in hand for Israel’s northern residents?
● Why did you trust the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), with its checkered history of weakness and inefficiency, to restrain Hizbullah terrorists from attacking our northern cities and towns?
● What political – and, specifically, personal electoral – calculations did you take into consideration when deciding to unilaterally cut and run from Lebanon?
● Following the withdrawal and for the remaining months of your government, did you authorize any monitoring of Hizbullah troop movements and their weapons flow in South Lebanon? If so, how could you and the intelligence services have missed the steady and seemingly endless entrance of these deadly Katyusha rockets and missiles into this area?
● One final question, Prime Minister Barak: Considering your negligence in not maintaining security for millions of Israelis, how do you sleep at night?
Next up, Prime Minister Olmert:
● Mr. Prime Minister, having been a close confidant of former prime minister Ariel Sharon for most of his five years in office, what, if anything, did you do to help him decrease Hizbullah’s threat on Israel’s northern border? How do you suppose such a security-conscious leader could permit terrorists, sworn to Israel’s annihilation, to stockpile with impunity thousands of deadly rockets aimed at major Israeli cities?
● How can you insist to Israelis wounded in this war and to the loved ones of those killed that Israel actually won, despite the fact that your government clearly fell short of its stated goal of destroying Hizbullah?
● What do you say to the families of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the kidnapped soldiers you promised to bring home before ending the war against Hizbullah?
● The Lebanese army will play a major role in patrolling South Lebanon, but is on record as saying it is reluctant to forcefully disarm fellow Lebanese fighters. The 15,000-strong international peacekeeping unit is empowered to help, but UN forces have never been successful in similar missions in the past. With these points in mind, why did you agree to these post-war conditions under UN Security Council Resolution 1701?
● By permitting the Lebanese army and UNIFIL to ensure the security of northern Israel, aren’t you violating one of the cardinal rules of Israel’s military doctrine by putting the safety of our citizens in the hands of foreign forces? Doesn’t this set a dangerous military and psychological precedent for any future military operation?
● Ten days before the cease-fire, a Hizbullah-fired rocket landed in Hadera, some 50 miles from the Israel-Lebanon border. If Hizbullah – with thousands of deadly rockets still at its disposal – currently has that capability range, why would you or anyone in the Israeli military establishment believe that Hizbullah, no matter how far it’s been pushed from our border, will not eventually acquire or develop rockets capable of hitting targets inside Israel at greater distances than 50 miles?
● Roughly 25 percent of Israeli military fatalities occurred in the final days of the war – after Resolution 1701’s passage was assured with your backing. In retrospect, do you believe it was worth risking the lives of more Israeli military personnel for the clearly remote chance of inflicting the type of serious damage to Hizbullah that the IDF, under your direction, was unable to accomplish in more than a month of fighting?
● Why did you put political opportunism ahead of Israel’s national security when you appointed as defense minister Amir Peretz, a man with absolutely no experience in military leadership?
● On August 20, less than a week after the cease-fire took effect, Chief Infantry Officer Brig.-Gen. Yossi Hyman was the first senior IDF officer to admit to the failure of the war in Lebanon. He said, “I did not succeed in preparing the infantry well enough for war. Sometimes we were guilty of the sin of vanity.” Others in the military establishment, more involved in the war’s planning and execution than you, have since agreed with that assessment. How then can you still defend your government’s pre-war preparations and implementation of the war itself?