Ya'alon: Soldiers Died for Spin; the Leaders Must Go

Former chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon believes the prime minister and chief of staff should resign, and the defense minister should be replaced for mismanaging the war in Lebanon.

In an interview in tomtorrow's Haaretz Magazine, Ya'alon castigated the decision to launch the ground operation at the end of the war in which 33 soldiers died.

"That was a spin move," Ya'alon said. "It had no substantive security-political goal, only a spin goal. It was meant to supply the missing victory picture. You don't do that. You don't send soldiers to carry out a futile mission after the political outcome has already been set. I consider that corrupt."

You are saying a very serious thing. Thirty-three soldiers were killed in that operation. Were they killed to achieve a spin?

"Yes. And that is why people have to resign. For that you don't even need a commission of inquiry. Whoever made that decision has to assume responsibility and resign."

Does the prime minister have to resign?

"Yes. He can't say he didn't know. He can't say that. Even if he was not an army person in the past and was not prime minister or defense minister, he knows how one goes to war. This is not the way to go to war. And he knows how a war is managed. This is not the way a war is managed. Going to war was scandalous, and he is directly responsible for that. The war's management was a failure, and he is responsible for that. The final operation was particularly problematic, and he was directly involved in that. He was warned and did not heed the warnings. Therefore, he must resign."

And the chief of staff?

"The chief of staff failed in the management of the war. He gave the political echelon the feeling that he had the capability, which in practice he did not have, to bring about a political achievement by means of an extremely aggressive military operation. He entered the war without defining it as a war, and maybe without understanding that it was a war. He did not understand the implications of the measures he himself adopted. He did not mobilize the reserves in time, and did not open the emergency depots in time, and did not activate the high-command base. He managed the war from his office. He imposed missions such as Bint Jbail without any discussion and without consulting wi th the command about the consequences and implications. He created lack of clarity that rattled the forces in the field, caused a loss of trust and generated chaos. He did not give the commanders in the North backing. He did not build a structure that would help him overcome his weakness in the land sphere. He managed the campaign arrogantly and shallowly."

Must the chief of staff resign?

"Yes. He should have resigned immediately after the conclusion of the campaign."

And the defense minister?

"The defense minister should be replaced. There is a certain justice to what he says about being new and not having time to learn and not even hearing that there were rockets in Lebanon. But the responsibility is on his shoulders in his very agreement to take the job. Both he and the person who appointed him are responsible for appointing an inexperienced person to a sensitive post, without taking into account that within a short time he would have to manage a crisis. There is no doubt the leadership team that was created here was perceived by Hezbollah as weak and inexperienced. Nasrallah may have been taken by surprise at the aggressive reaction by the prime minister, defense minister and chief of staff, but in the end he was right in his assessment that this team was incapable of managing a war properly."

Ya'alon still denied any intention of entering politics, but his denial sounds fainter than before. "Today I don't think politics is my way to exert influence," he said.

The full interview appears in tomorrow's Haaretz magazine.