PM: We Must Ensure Lebanon War Failures Are Not Repeated

Tells General Staff no one could have predicted calm, absence of Hezbollah fighters on northern border.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a meeting of the Israel Defense Forces General Staff on Thursday, that there had been some successes in the July-August 2006 war with Hezbollah, but Israel must work to ensure that the failures experienced during the conflict are not repeated.

"If someone had told me the day before the war in Lebanon started that within half a year the border with Lebanon would be quiet and instead of armed Hezbollah fighters there would be 15,000 Lebanese army troops supported by an international force, I would've told him he's crazy, but that's the situation today,' Olmert said.

Olmert also expressed his hope that the war inquiries do not weaken the capabilities of the IDF, even as they highlight the army's failures during the war.

"We must utilize the lessons of the war to invest in the human and economic resources of the army so that the failures experienced in Lebanon are not repeated," Olmert added.

During the 5-hour meeting, Olmert was presented with the findings of Israeli military inquiries on the war in Lebanon.

Former chief of staff Dan Shomron presented his findings on the conduct of the General Staff during the war, followed by conclusions on the management of the war by outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Dan Halutz, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and Olmert.

The prime minister said that the meeting will be the first, but not the last, to focus on the lessons learned from the war.

Olmert leveled praise on Halutz's handling of the war inquiries. "In Hebrew, there is no word for dignity," he said.

A number of generals have complained that the dynamics of the victories and losses of the war have been overlooked and that public discourse on the war is dominated by superficial media interpretations.