(photo credit: )
If everything goes as planned, at exactly 8 a.m. on Monday the fighting in Lebanon will come to an end. IDF troops will man key positions throughout southern Lebanon, but will stop sweeping through villages in pursuit of Hizbullah terrorists as they have been doing for the past month. The IAF will cease air strikes and cannons will become silent.
But while the fighting in Lebanon might be coming to an end, the infighting in Israel is just beginning. Officers and politicians involved in the decision-making process throughout the war have for the past few days - ever since realizing that a cease-fire was about to be implemented - been working on creating alibis for their actions and decisions throughout Operation Change of Direction.
Based on reports in the media, the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the directing and management of the war in Lebanon is almost a done deal. Now it is all about who will take the fall, who will come out with a small blemish and who will emerge squeaky clean.
One of the main questions any commission of inquiry will have to deal with is why it took so long for the ground operation in southern Lebanon to be launched. Another question has to do with the decision made on Friday by Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to order a massive sweep up to the Litani River: Why did they send the troops up to the Litani, knowing that in a few hours - as it happened - the United Nations Security Council would vote and approve a US and France-backed cease-fire resolution?
Other issues that need to be dealt with go back to the initial stages of this war and the days that led to it. Why did the Northern Command lower the level of alert along the border two days before Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were kidnapped in Hizbullah's cross-border attack? At the time, OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Udi Adam confirmed that the IDF was surprised by the attack.
Another indication of the surprise was in IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz's comment last week that he called a hotel in the North on July 11, a day before the attack that drew Israel into war, to make a reservation for a family vacation.
Another issue that any commission of inquiry will need to deal with involves the IDF's overall preparation for this war. Reservists in the armored corps said Sunday that they had not touched a tank in over six years but in time of war they are supposed to deploy into Lebanon and Syria. Why have they not been training?
There is also the issue of equipment. Reservists from the elite unit Egoz had to raise $40,000 to purchase bullet-proof vests since they were being sent into Lebanon without them. In an interview on Channel 10 on Saturday night, Halutz blamed the cuts in the defense budget over the past several years as the main reason behind the lack of equipment for reservists and conscripts. The politicians will have to deal with this issue and rethink exactly what type of military they want Israel to have after reviewing the results of Operation Change of Direction.
Referring to the expected blame game, Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres said Sunday that now was the time for unity and not for fighting. "We cannot fall again into wars between Jews and generals," Peres said. "These are difficult times during which we need to be united and work together to rehabilitate the Galilee and all of northern Israel."
But for many IDF officers, unity might be the last thing on their minds. They are busy thinking about their personal careers and the promotions they might not get because of their involvement in the alleged mismanagement of the war.
One of those officers is OC Galilee Division Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsh. It was under his watch that Regev and Goldwasser were kidnapped. Other officers on the chopping block include Adam, who got the message that he was being set up as scapegoat when Halutz named his deputy - Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky - to oversee the battles in the North.
But Adam, officers close to him insisted Sunday, did not plan to turn into the IDF's fall guy after the war was over. Several generals have already begun to give him support and in closed-door meetings are saying that Adam only followed orders issued by the General Staff.