The Forgotten Civilian Fatalities / 'My Son Fell in the War Too'

Nava Mansura's table is piled with bags of documents - dozens, maybe hundreds - concerning the death of her son Shlomi, who was killed during the Second Lebanon War along with seven other workers at the Haifa train depot.

His mother is "only looking for someone who will understand that he was killed in the war" and be recognized as a war casualty.

For a year and a half she has been writing letters and sending them off. She wants an answer: from the Winograd Committee, from the state comptroller, from the president, from the transportation minister, from Knesset members, from Haifa city hall and from the Kiryat Haim municipality, where she lives.

Mansura has saved all the answers sent her by various officials. Every one of the letter writers "express their condolences on her loss," but provide no answers.

As the Winograd Committee prepares to release its final report today, Mansura does not expect to find any answers among the pages of the most authoritative document about the Second Lebanon War. In fact, just like the rest of the families of the 44 civilians killed by Hezbollah attacks, she has found herself in recent weeks outside the political and media spotlight.

The center stage has been filled with bereaved families, reserve soldiers, the war disabled, and officers present and past. The link between all these groups is the Israel Defense Forces.

"No one is interested in civilians, they have thrown us to the dogs," she says. "Forty-four civilians were killed in the war, many were good people, volunteers, contributing to society, like my son. But they did not volunteer to die. No one watched over them. Who is supposed to be responsible? There were mistakes at the front, but there were also mistakes in the rear and there will be in the next war too," she said.

While the Winograd Committee focused on the political and military echelon, the problems of the home front, before and during the war, have already been examined by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, who called them a moral failure. Lindenstrauss' report, published last July, placed the blame for these failures squarely on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, former defense minister Amir Peretz, former chief of Staff Dan Halutz, and Major General Yitzhak Gershon, who was until very recently the head of the Home Front Command.

But Lindenstrauss' sharp report has been almost completely forgotten, and was seen almost immediately upon its publication as just another round in the personal battle between Lindenstrauss and Olmert.

Even while the Katyushas rained down, Shlomi Mansura continued in his job, doing the "dirty work" as his mother describes it. He was 35 and despite his degree as a practical engineer, he insisted on continuing his work to support his wife and daughters.

His mother says he warned his bosses about the dangers, but they insisted on continuing work. On July 16, 2006 a rocket scored a direct hit on the depot and killed eight workers, injuring 23 others.

Mansura wants the Israel Railways management investigated, as well as the Home Front Command. She also complains about the decision, made after the war, to transfer from the Defense Ministry to the National Insurance Institute all dealings with the families of the civilians killed.

"I will not stop, I will go to the High Court of Justice and demand my son be recognized as a war casualty. He fell in the war."