gershon yitzhak kenya 88.
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson's Office)
Although it was warnings of missile attacks on the home front that led to the establishment of the Home Front Command in 1991, the state comptroller's report on the Second Lebanon War, released Wednesday, argued that the command failed to respond to the challenge presented by the war.
OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak "Gerry" Gershon was blasted in the report by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, who said that he, along with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, former defense minister Amir Peretz, and former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz "all failed severely in their decision-making processes, assessments and operations in managing the home front during the war."
The criticism of the Home Front Command was one of the most dominant themes in Lindenstrauss's report, one of the harshest ever released by the often-outspoken comptroller. It centered around four major themes: allegations that the Home Front Command only carried out the minimum actions expected of it; that Gershon ignored demands by Peretz to draft reserves and that when he did, it was too little and too late; that Gershon used a plan of action that he knew had not yet been grounded in law or approved by his superiors; and that the command failed to take necessary steps to adequately protect buildings, residents, and facilities with dangerous chemicals.
The Home Front Command drafted around one-tenth of its potential reserve force - and only as the war concluded its second week. "The treatment of the civilian population was seriously damaged, among other reasons because the chief of staff and the OC Home Front Command did not draft the unit's reserve forces on time or in the necessary amount," wrote Lindenstrauss. Gershon, according to Lindenstrauss, "took a reductionist approach toward activating the Home Front Command and aiding the population, even though the threat that arose demanded a broad approach."
Much of the criticism of the HFC centered around a plan of action through which the IDF body was subordinated to the Israel Police in all questions of command in the affected areas. This decision, said Lindenstrauss, was in violation of current legislation. Even worse, he said, Gershon was aware that the procedure had not yet been approved at the highest levels but decided to operate it anyway.
"The Home Front Command and the police operated a new working understanding during the war - the "combined" approachâ€¦even though the staff work on the plan had not yet been completed and both bodies knew that its enactment was not approved by the then-chief-of-staff or the then-chief-of-police, nor had it been brought before political leadership for approval."
The comptroller questioned why the OC Home Front Command had not used the previously existing plan, National Shield, which had been drawn up specifically for war on the northern border.
The use of the combined plan, according to Lindenstrauss, led to "organizational and operational lack of clarity among police and the Home Front Command."
Although much of his criticism of the Home Front Command centered around Gershon himself and his decision-making process, Lindenstrauss acknowledged that, to a certain extent, the newest command's failures also were due to lack of "organizational memory." Citing the less than two-year tenures of Gershon's predecessors, Lindenstrauss emphasized the complexity and uniqueness of the unit's role and the ensuing necessity for longer terms of office for the OC Home Front Command.
While the majority of the report was negative, the comptroller did note that "in those areas in which the Home Front Command's soldiers did offer assistance to the civilian population, there was a significant improvement in addressing problems that arose among the population - and in many instances, they earned great appreciation."