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

Thousands demand state commission of inquiry outside PM's residence.

By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
October 12, 2006 23:22
2 minute read.
'Winograd: Don't be Olmert's doll'

jlem protest 298.88. (photo credit: AP)

 
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In a display of cross-party unity, a few thousand reservists and their supporters, angered over the government's handling of the war in Lebanon, demonstrated outside the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem on Thursday, demanding the establishment of a state commission of inquiry. The protest, attended by representatives of both the Left and the Right, came amid continuing criticism of the Winograd Commission examining the war and a petition asking the High Court of Justice to order the government to appoint a state commission in its stead. "We are sending our children to be killed," Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal told the protesters. "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 numbering 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 Anat Cohen, 24, from Jerusalem. Cohen, who performed reserve service in the North during the war, said the protests had stayed small because people wanted to forget the war or did not have enough strength to relive the trauma they went through this summer. Demonstrators carried huge banners reading: "The nation wants a state commission of inquiry," and, "You took authority, take responsibility," and repeatedly booed the country's wartime leaders whenever their names were mentioned. The mixed crowd of secular and Orthodox demonstrators blasted the government-appointed commission as a white-wash, with one banner reading: "Winograd: Don't be Olmert's puppet," referring to retired Tel Aviv District Court judge Eliahu Winograd, who heads the five-member panel. "The State of Israel is anxiously awaiting for mistakes to be addressed, and the first condition for addressing mistakes 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 approved by the cabinet 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, from Jerusalem. "There is a sense that everybody agrees with this, even if they are not here," she said. Reservists at the rally passed out green ribbons - in keeping with the color of their army uniforms.

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