PM Olmert admits to war errors

But says hundreds of Hizbullah killed, threat neutralized.

September 21, 2006 19:16
2 minute read.
PM Olmert admits to war errors

olmert shouts 298.8 . (photo credit: AP)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert admitted on Thursday that there were failures in the management of the IDF and the Home Front during the war in Lebanon. For a Jerusalem Online video of events click here "There were military mistakes during the war and in how to support the civilian population," said the prime minister in an interview given to Channel 2, adding, "I always make mistakes, and the ultimate authority lies with me, but the most basic decisions were not mistakes." "We could have got ourselves into even greater danger and been under fire from longer range missiles," Olmert continued, claiming that hundreds of Hizbullah guerillas had been killed and the organization's front line had been completely destroyed. "There is no more threat of Hizbullah on northern settlements," he claimed. When asked if the appointment of Defense Minister Amir Peretz was one of his mistakes, Olmert snapped, "Stop exaggerating...He is the defense minister - period! He will continue in this role." He also pointed out that 15 percent of the Israeli public had even voted for Peretz to be prime minister. The prime minister also rejected criticism over the continuation of IDF operations despite the cease-fire secured by the United Nations Security Council. "It was a correct, justified and responsible decision, which was made out of consideration for all the issues involved. It was impossible for us to halt operations at that time, since we would have endangered the soldiers' lives," explained the prime minister. "The IDF told me that we had to continue until we reached a point where if Hizbullah continued with its activities, we would not be in an inferior (strategic) position," said Olmert. Olmert said that the notion that Israel had lost the war was not the right one. "There is great disappointment amongst the public. I understand that, and it needs to be considered," he conceded. "But there is a new situation now, and the international community has also recognized that we had a huge victory against the guerillas." When asked about efforts to secure the release of the kidnapped soldiers, Olmert said that Israel was working "day and night" in its efforts to free them. "We are using all our force and all methods," he said, refusing to enter into specifics. Olmert was quizzed about the timing of the war's end, to which he replied, "We received all the information, all the intelligence, and in the end, all the members of the cabinet accepted this decision, and there were a lot of citizens who also agreed with it." When confronted over the reported shortages in equipment supplied to IDF forces, Olmert went on the defensive. "It is not the job of the prime minister to think about how many vests there are in storage." Concerning the Palestinian issue, the prime minister said that the peace process was "by no means dead," adding, "All the time, we are in contact with the Palestinians." On the Iranian threat, Olmert said that the danger must not be taken lightly. "The threat from Iran is a threat which one must not for a moment take lightly. We are occupied with it unceasingly," the prime minister proclaimed. Olmert said that while Israel could defend itself, he hoped the international community would be able to keep Iran in line. "I am convinced that the international effort, led by the United States, will lead to the required results," he said. AP contributed to this report

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