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On the last day of hearing reserve soldiers' testimony about the recent war in Lebanon, the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee concerned itself with how to ensure that similar operational mishaps won't happen again.
"So much of what we have been hearing has repeated itself so often, we know it's not just one case of poor management, but rather a whole war poorly handled," MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said Sunday. "The question is whether this committee will do justice to these soldiers and make sure we don't need committees like this again."
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Sunday's meeting was the third, and last, in which reserve soldiers could come and present their eyewitness testimony. The MKs will now deliberate and present their findings in a report detailing the IDF's handling of the war.
More than 40 soldiers appeared before the committee in meetings held in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and MKs said their personal testimonies drew a disturbing picture. Many of the reservists complained of the same general problems - poor communication, confusing orders and lack of supplies.
On Sunday, St.-Sgt. Itai Nivoy testified that he had treated many wounded soldiers as a combat medic stationed near Bint Jabil. However, he said, he had not been equipped with an updated medic's kit, most of his medicine had expired in 1989 and other important medical supplies had been missing.
"We were lucky, simply lucky, that we didn't have any serious cases where somebody died because of this gross, gross oversight," Nivoy said. "But we were put in a very dangerous situation where a lot could have gone wrong and people could have died."
Like many of the others who appeared before the committee, Nivoy said he had come to speak to the MKs not out of anger, but because he wanted to make sure that something would be done in time "for the next war."
"We know that they can't change what has happened, so we aren't holding a grudge," said a soldier who gave his name as Dan. "We just want to know that for the next war, when we get called up to the reserves again, the army will get its act together."
The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee is expected to relay its findings to the Winograd Committee, the government-appointed committee that will examine the army's conduct since it withdrew from southern Lebanon in May 2000.