"The prime minister made up his mind hastily, despite the fact that no detailed military plan was submitted to him and without asking for one," the report said. "He made his decision without systematic consultation with others, especially outside the IDF, despite not having experience in external-political and military affairs."
Olmert was also censured for failing to "adapt his plans once it became clear that the assumptions and expectations of Israel's actions were not realistic and were not materializing."
"All of these," the report said, "add up to a serious failure in exercising judgment, responsibility and prudence."
The report continues with heavy criticism of Amir Peretz, the Defense Minister:
Peretz "did not have knowledge or experience in military, political or governmental matters. He also did not have good knowledge of the basic principles of using military force to achieve political goals."
Despite these deficiencies, the report states, "he made his decisions during this period without systemic consultations with experienced political and professional experts, including outside the security establishment."
In fact, the panel found, "his serving as minister of defense during the war impaired Israel's ability to respond well to its challenges."
The committee also blasted retired Chief of Staff Dan Halutz for his role in the debacle:
Dan Halutz, who was IDF chief of staff at the time, was criticized for entering the war "unprepared," and for failing to inform the cabinet of the true state of the IDF ahead of the ground operation.
According to the findings, the army and its chief of staff "were not prepared for the event of the abduction despite recurring alerts."
The panel also found that Halutz had failed to "present to the political leaders the internal debates within the IDF concerning the fit between the stated goals and the authorized modes of actions."
To sum it up, our government failed miserably. We elected a prime minister who had pushed his way up the Likkud and Kadima ladder by being Ariel Sharon's pet. We elected a prime minister with no real experience in the political arena (bar being mayor of Jerusalem). We elected a prime minister who in turn appointed a Defense Minister with no combat experience or understanding of military planning. We were quiet when our last Chief of Staff was fired for being opposed to the disengagement, and were again quiet with the political promotion of a pilot to the rank of Chief of Staff. With these inexperienced, cocky, selfish leaders, what were we really expecting?
This morning, Ehud Olmert vowed to remain in office despite calls for his resignation, "It would not be correct to resign, and I have no intention of resigning." I'm not sure what goes through this man's head but he has to go. The public approval of Olmert is the lowest any Israeli prime minister has ever had, with some polls sadly showing it at being less than 10%. His own party has already made noise about pushing him out of politics, while lawmakers across the political spectrum have called for him to resign. It would be best for Olmert to resign, and retire permanently from the public eye. He's done enough damage to this country's morale and security.
No matter when Olmert and Peretz do in fact resign(Halutz resigned 3 months ago), the tough part of this journey actually starts now. This country needs to implement the harsh lessons of last summer's war and re-build its morale. A good start was made with the appointment of Gabi Ashkenazi as the new Chief of Staff. The career soldier has already started making necessary changes to the way our standing army and reservist units work. The famous quote of yesta-year was 'עם בונה צבא בונה עם', which translates to the nation builds the army, which in turn builds the nation. Our army's failures this past summer severely dented our confidence and moral - Ashkenazi is hopefully the right man to repair that by making the necessary changes to our army.
That leaves us with the two government posts. Unfortunately, the only strong leader we really have is still lying in a coma. So that begs the question, who can take over once Olmert goes? I think our best bet is Benjamin 'Bibi' Netanyahu. I know he's made his mistakes and is unpopular for his financial reforms but he's been in this position before and we're crying out for an experienced and confident leader. He is probably the best option we have from a rather average pool of candidates. With regards to the defense minister spot, it MUST go to a man who has military experience. The two best candidates in my opinion are Moshe 'Bugi' Ya'alon, who was our last Chief of Staff before Dan Halutz and is now a member of the Likkud, or Shaul Mofaz, the last defense minister before Peretz.
Whatever happens next, let's hope our army and government are fully prepared for the challenges that await them both domestically and on our borders. The Second Lebanon War was a very difficult time in our short 59 year history, but it hopefully taught us the lessons we need to ensure a stronger and more vibrant Israel. The waiting game now begins, but one thing's for sure, all will be well ... יהיה בסדר