Almog: A critic of the Lebanon War's handling

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog is from the IDF's old school - sharp, straight-talking and unapologetic. His career includes starring roles in 1976's Entebbe rescue and a host of other anti-terror operations. In 1984, he participated in Operation Moses, the clandestine airlift of 7,000 endangered Jews from Ethiopia. He was OC Southern Command from 2000 to 2003 and is credited with overseeing the prevention of some 400 attempts by bombers to infiltrate from Gaza during his tenure. After retiring from active service, and perhaps inspired by son, Eran, who is autistic and mentally disabled, Almog turned his attention to the welfare of the Negev's poorest sector, fighting for the rights of Beduin. In September 2005, during a trip to London to raise funds for a charity for the disabled, Almog returned to the headlines. On arrival, the military attache at the Israel Embassy advised him not to leave his El Al airplane because a warrant had been issued for his arrest on war crimes charges relating to the demolition of homes in Gaza in 2002. Almog rejected the allegations, insisting both that the "59 homes" in question, in Rafah, were not permanent structures and that they were used by terrorists to launch attacks. Saving lives was his paramount consideration, he said, and therefore his actions were justified under international law. Then-foreign secretary Jack Straw later apologized and the arrest warrant was withdrawn. In the first days of the second Lebanon War, Almog publicly called for decisive action to destroy Hizbullah. "The other side needs to understand that we will not accept years of attrition where they determine the nature of the war. If, in a week or two from now, Hizbullah is left with only 10 percent of its forces, it will understand this." During the war, Almog was critical of what he saw as costly indecision that delayed an expanded IDF ground operation in southern Lebanon.