Top IDF Officer: We Knew War Would Not Get Abducted Soldiers Back

GOC Northern Command says army planned on 4-6 day conflict in Lebanon, primary objective was to strike Hezbollah.

The GOC Northern Command Major General Gadi Eisenkott said Wednesday that the Israel Defense Forces embarked on the Second Lebanon War last year even though it was clear the conflict would not return the two IDF soldiers whose kidnap by Hezbollah sparked the hostilities.

"After a couple of hours it became clear that we would not get the kidnapped soldiers back through military means," Eisenkott told students at a Nahariya school.

IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were snatched by Hezbollah guerillas on July 12, 2006, during a patrol on the Israeli side of the border with Lebanon.

Eisenkott, who was the IDF director of operations at the time of the war, said that it was more than half an hour after the abduction before the code for kidnapped soldiers - "Hannibal" - was employed.

He said that the IDF had planned on a 4-6 day conflict, but that the situation had changed and the war actually lasted for more than a month.

He added that the primary objective of the mission was to deal a blow to Hezbollah, launch a massive strike on Hezbollah targets, and return the territory in which the group was operating to Lebanese sovereignty.

Eisenkott also said that on July 12, there were several successful operations in the Gaza Strip, including an assault on Hamas' military infrastructure.

He said that despite the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and attempted abductions of Israelis in the south, there had been no specific alert of a plan to kidnap soldiers in the north.

Eisenkott had been talking for just 10 minutes when members of his staff and representatives of the IDF Spokesman's office brought the lecture to a brief halt while the members of the media were asked to leave the hall. The IDF staff said that Eisenkott's comments had not been okayed by IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

They also said that the invitation to the media had been issued by the school and not in coordination with the IDF Spokesman.