(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz, chief of General Staff during the Second Lebanon War, rejected criticism of decisions he made during the 2006 campaign, saying Sunday that if in office today he would recommend responding to a Hizbullah attack the same way he did three years ago.
"The government's decision to take action [against Hizbullah] in Lebanon in the summer of 2006 was correct and justified," Halutz said during a conference marking the third anniversary of the war at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
"Leadership is measured in the ability to make a decision even if it is not popular - and to be prepared to be held accountable if it is successful or if it fails," he added.
Halutz, today a private businessman, stressed that his decision to respond to the kidnapping of reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser was not made on the spur of the moment on June 12, 2006, but was part of a strategy that he had formulated over a long period of time.
"It was possible to make do with a limited attack, but I thought otherwise and still hold this view today," he said. "Under the exact same circumstances I would recommend the same modus operandi."
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Kaplinsky, who was Halutz's deputy during the conflict, told the conference that the IDF failed to internalize three years ago that the conflict with Hizbullah was an actual war.
Kaplinsky put the blame on the government's decision to cut the defense budget in 2003 as well as on the army's preoccupation with stopping Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank.
"Fighting against terrorism and the cuts to the defense budget led to the IDF not being prepared when the Second Lebanon War began," Kaplinsky said.
He listed a number of failures, including the decision at the beginning of the war not to call up reservists, the failure to anticipate the impact the campaign would have on the home front, and the inability to formulate an "end strategy" from the outset.