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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
In the testimony of Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines to the Winograd Committee investigating the Second Lebanon War released on Monday, he attested to his sense of being an outsider in the security cabinet during the war.
"Somehow I was the 'bad boy' of the cabinet, although I wasn't all that bad. But I wasn't so bad because it was really important to me to maintain internal and external cohesion during wartime," Paz-Pines said.
Paz-Pines discussed his ambivalence regarding an IDF ground operation.
"In a very extreme situation, although I was unequivocally opposed to the final ground incursion - and I discussed this - I ultimately abstained [on a ground-op]; [because] I knew that were I to vote against [a ground op] the result would have been external controversy that I would not be able to evade."
In a government meeting held July 12 to decide upon a response to the abduction of the two IDF reservists, Paz-Pines cautioned against harming civilians, but adapted a militaristic stance.
"I thought that there would be an operationâ€¦ I thought thatâ€¦ the IDF and Israel could not but respond, because [a show of restraint] would be interpreted as weaknessâ€¦ I thought that there was going to be an extremely significant and impressive airborne operation," Paz-Pines said.
Paz-Pines also described the sense of uncertainty that reigned in government meetings during the war. "It seems to me that even the prime minister commented on thisâ€¦ It was obvious that Hizbullah would target the home front in responseâ€¦but it was not really clear what was going on after the air strike."
The former science, culture and sports minister added that "undoubtedly, the government was absolutely clueless regarding the true situation on the home frontâ€¦ I was informed of the IDF's plans by the media."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not remain unscathed by Paz- Pines's report: "What you (the committee members) cannot read in the protocols is the volume of the voices. For instance, every time I would make a comment that was out of keeping [with the rest], he [Olmert] would start shouting and screaming."