Ex-IDF General Udi Shani: IDF Failed in Second Lebanon War

Shani says IDF 'didn't operate properly', ex-chief of staff Halutz wasn't receptive enough to dissenting views.

The Israel Defense Forces failed in its 2006 war against Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas because the top commanders didn't operate and communicate properly, and were late in preparing for a ground offensive, an ex-general said Saturday, after conducting an internal investigation.

The reserve general, Udi Shani, also said that the army chief of staff at the time, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, wasn't receptive enough to dissenting views among top commanders and should have spent more time near the front lines, rather than at military headquarters.

"The military failed," Shani told Israel Radio. "It didn't operate properly."

"The military failed because it had an erroneus concept," he said, in an apparent reference to the heavy reliance on air strikes against Hezbollah.

The unusually frank criticism of the army command came just days after a five-member investigative panel, headed by retired Justice Eliyahu Winograd, issued its final report on the 34-day war, criticizing both the government and the army for serious failings and flaws.

Winograd said Israel did not win the war and the army did not provide an effective response to a sustained, deadly barrage of rocket fire from Hezbollah guerrillas. Despite a heavy IDF aerial campaign, the guerrilla group rained nearly 4,000 rockets on northern Israel. IDF reservists returning from the battlefield complained of poor training and a lack of ammunition and key supplies.

In parallel, Shani conducted an internal army investigation of the performance of the top command.

He said the reliance on air attacks was reasonable in the first few days of the war, but that commanders then should have prepared for a ground offensive.

The military only embarked on the ground offensive at the last minute, just as a UN truce was about to take effect. Thirty-three IDF soldiers were killed in the final 60 hours of fighting.

Winograd said the 11th-hour offensive failed in its mission, did not improve Israel's position and that the army was not prepared for it. However, he said the operation's goals were legitimate.

Most of the army's wartime commanders, including Halutz, have resigned since the war.

According to official figures from both sides, between 1,035 and 1,191 Lebanese civilians and combatants died in the conflict, in addition to 119IDF soldiers and 40 civilians.