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Israeli leaders face scathing report on war

Last summer's war on Hizbullah is now reaping a wave of critiques, led by the findings of the Winograd Commission.

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Israel's leaders faced the first wave Monday of what is likely to be a torrent of official criticism over last summer's war with Lebanon, as a special commission laid out a plethora of military and political failures not easily tolerated in a country known for never having lost a war.

The impact of the Winograd Commission report, initial findings to be followed by a final report in July, is likely to be strongly felt both at home – as politicians use it to gauge whether Prime Minister Ehud Olmert can survive – and in the region, where some will view it as further proof of an Israel no longer invincible. Also, it is coming amid concern that another confrontation could easily be triggered.

Mr. Olmert failed "severely," the report states, to show good judgment. "We find the prime minister ministerially and personally responsible for the faulty decisions taken and the problems in the decision-making process.

"The prime minister had formulated his opinion without being presented with a detailed plan, and without demanding that such a plan be presented, and therefore he could not have analyzed its details and approved it," the commission found.

Olmert, upon receiving the report, said that he would "act immediately ... to correct failures and ensure that in every possible future threat facing the state of Israel, the failures and the defects that you point to will be remedied."

By the end of the war in August, launched soon after Hizbullah killed three Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two others, few Israelis could say it was a success. International opinion turned against Israel following so much death and destruction in Lebanon – more than 1,000 died – and 120 Israeli soldiers lost their lives. Israel found its homefront susceptible to rockets. Indeed, reservists, who went into battle unprepared and underequipped, were the most active in calling for the commission.

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