Former Minister of Science, Culture and Sports MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) told the Winograd Committee the cabinet did not discuss a diplomatic end-point for the Second Lebanon War, as it expected international pressure to force Israel to finish it within a few days, the Committee reported Monday.
"The leading diplomatic sources... gave us a working premise that we didn't have much time to work with, and that we needed to act until we would be stopped - but then no one stopped us. This is what happened. Not only did no one stop us, they encouraged us, and we let this go to our heads," the former minister said.
Pines emphasized that Israel was dragged into a war without actually deciding to enter one.
"I learnt of the Israel Defense Forces plans for the war from the media," he also testified.
At a certain point the cabinet came to the view that they would have to "force the world to force us [to stop the fighting]," so Israel needed to hit hard in order to bring international pressure upon itself, Pines said.
Pines said that on 12 July - the day Hezbollah guerillas ambushed an IDF patrol and kidnapped two soldiers, sparking the subsequent war - he believed Israel needed to respond in order to restore its deterrence capability and to damage Hezbollah's stock of weapons. He also thought that returning the abducted soldiers was still possible.
According to the former minister's testimony, the cabinet was aware that Hezbollah would respond with Katyushas aimed at Israel's civilians.
The ministers were asked to approve a "meaningful, but limited [operation]. But absolutely not a war, and in no way a comprehensive, large-scale campaign," Pines said.
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