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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The decision to go to war last summer was hasty and the reserves should have been called up earlier, opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu told the Winograd Committee.
He said he had spoken with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the beginning of the Second Lebanon War and was surprised to hear that reserve forces had not yet been drafted.
"Every private who has experienced a battle knows that the key to victory is to deploy a secondary force near the enemy's weak points," Netanyahu said in his testimony to the committee charged with investigating the war, which was released Sunday.
"Every day that passed there was no reserve draft," he said. "I remind you of what I said when I was prime minister, that if you want to put an end to the threat of rockets, you have to implement a ground operation, there is no choice."
"The last thing that should be done [during war] is to go straight toward [the enemy]," Netanyahu added. "I can hold him by force and then approach him with great force and simply clear the field."
The Likud chairman told the committee he had asked Olmert and then defense minister Amir Peretz what Israel's next steps would be but was not given clear answers. He said the government must expropriate from the defense echelon its monopoly on giving advice to the prime minister. When he was prime minister, he added, he had established the National Security Council to prevent that.
"I think the role of a defense minister is secondary," Netanyahu said. "I think the role of the defense establishment is secondary. In my opinion, the responsibility of defending the State of Israel lies with the prime minister.
"Of course the defense minister also has important tasks. But you are elected prime minister to ensure the security of the country, and you also have to be active with the conceptual instructions both between and during wars."