'Winograd: Don't be Olmert's doll'

Thousands protest in Jerusalem for state commission of inquiry into war.

October 12, 2006 22:10
2 minute read.
'Winograd: Don't be Olmert's doll'

jlem protest 298.88. (photo credit: AP)

In a rare display of cross-party unity, a couple thousand reservists and their supporters angered over the government's handling of the war in Lebanon protested Thursday outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem for the establishment of a state commission of inquiry into the war. The demonstration, which united both the left right and center into one diverse camp, came amidst continuing public disapproval of the government-appointed war probe, and an ongoing legal struggle to force the government to appoint a state commission of inquiry in its stead. "We are sending out children to be killed," Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal said at the protest. "We are sending real children and we want a real commission of inquiry." The two-month old reservists' demonstrations have nevertheless failed to bring out large crowds that other political demonstrations have attracted, with Thursday night's protest attracting about 2,500 people. "We went through a very severe trauma and I do not think that the government is treating it seriously enough," said protester Anat Cohen, 24, of Jerusalem. Cohen, who did her reserve service in the north during the war, suggested that the low-level protests had failed to attract massive crowds because people wanted to forget or did not have enough strength to relive the trauma they went through this summer. Protesters at the evening event who carried huge banners which read "the nation wants a state commission of inquiry" and "you took authority take responsibility," repeatedly booed the country's wartime leaders whenever their names were mentioned by speakers at the rally. The mixed crowd of secular and religious demonstrators blasted the government-appointed commission of inquiry as a white-wash, with one banner reading: "Winograd: Don't be Olmert's doll," referring to retired judge Eliyahu Winograd who heads the 5-member panel. "The State of Israel is anxiously awaiting for errors to be addressed, and the first condition for addressing errors is revealing the truth," former Meretz leader Yossi Sarid told the protesters. "The [Winograd] Commission does not have the authority, does not have the abilities, and does not have the necessary credibility and I have great doubt that it has the will and desire to investigate as needed," he said. The probe, which was authorized by the government last month, fell short of demands for the establishment of a sweeping state commission that would have the power to dismiss top government and military officials. "It cannot be that the people who are supposed to be questioning the decisions made by the government are tied to the government," said demonstrator Daniella Casper, 24 of Jerusalem. "There is a sense that everybody agrees with this, even if they are not here," she concluded. Reservists at the rally also passed out green ribbons -- in keeping with the color of the army uniform -- as a sign of a support for their cause. A petition to the High Court of Justice launched by an anti-corruption group which would force the government to appoint a state commission of inquiry is still pending.

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