Nasrallah Praises Winograd Report; Siniora: No Mention of Destruction in Lebanon

Hezbollah leader says report settled any debate of who emerged victor from the 34-day war last summer.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Wednesday praised the Winograd report for its description of Israel's failures during the Second Lebanon War, but the Lebanese government criticized the findings, saying the report did not address the massive destruction caused by Israel to his country.

"I will not gloat," Nasrallah told an audience at the opening of a book fair in a south Beirut neighborhood complex, rebuilt after being leveled by Israel Air Force warplanes during the summer fighting.

"It is worthy of respect that an investigative commission appointed by [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert condemns him," Nasrallah said. "When the enemy entity acts honestly and sincerely, you cannot but respect it."

"Even though they're our enemies, it is worthy of respect that the political forces and the Israeli public act quickly to save their state, entity, army and their existence in the crisis," he added.

"Today the climate in the whole of the Zionist entity is that this war was a failure," he said.

The guerilla leader also said the committee of inquiry had vindicated his claim that Israel had been defeated.

"The first important outcome of this commission is that it has finally and officially decided the issue of victory and defeat... This commission spoke about a very big defeat," Nasrallah said.

The report said Olmert bore ultimate responsibility for the failures of the 34-day war, accusing him of poor judgment, hasty decision-making and lack of vision, fueling calls from within his own Kadima party for him to resign.

Nasrallah also lamented the divisions within the Arab world and Lebanon, where Hezbollah is in a power struggle with the U.S.-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

Siniora, meanwhile, called on the deeply divided Lebanon to unite. He warned that Israel could be planning future attacks to restore its credibility.

"I call on my Lebanese brothers to unite in the face of what Israel might be seeking to launch against Lebanon," Siniora said.

He criticized the Winograd report for failing to address the destruction, estimated at more than $5 billion caused by the IDF air and naval bombardment as well as the ground incursion during the war.

"The report on the unjust war... did not make a single mention of the massive material, human losses and destruction Israel inflicted on Lebanon," Siniora said.

Hezbollah has come under criticism from some Arab governments early on in the fighting for triggering the war by kidnapping two Israel Defense Forces soldiers in a July 12 cross-border raid.

"It is regrettable that we, the Arab world, and Lebanon are waiting for an Israeli commission to settle for us this dispute and to tell us, 'seriously, you have won and we [Israelis] were defeated,'" Nasrallah said.