Hanegbi to Winograd: All-out IDF offense led to diplomatic victory

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima) told the Winograd Committee he believed the government was right in going to war against Hizbullah on July 12, 2006 and hitting it as hard as possible, according to the transcript of his appearance before the committee released on Tuesday. Hanegbi also told the committee he believed UN Resolution 1701, which ended the war, was a victory for Israel and that one of the reasons Hizbullah agreed to it was because it knew that the IDF would defeat it had the fighting gone on a little longer. Hanegbi added that he supported the decision to send troops into southern Lebanon in the last days of the war, even though the army suffered heavy casualties as a result. "My personal view," Hanegbi told the committee, "and I expressed it during committee meetings, was that since the decision to go to battle had been made, and I think it was the right decision since there was no way to stop the Katyusha attacks other than by a lengthy ground attack - and since it was out of the question for Israel not to win the war, the price that had to be paid, a price which troubled many others and was important to me in every personal and moral way, was only one of many factors that [I believed] had to be taken into account from a national perspective. The main factor was that we had to win the battle." Hanegbi added that the cabinet decided to halt the ground assault because of the agreement of the parties to sign UN Resolution 1701, which he described as a "feasible diplomatic achievement." "I think that what contributed to this achievement was [Israel's] determination to launch a ground offensive, in other words, the awareness of the enemy that they were living on borrowed time. They could go on firing [Katyushas] again and again and again but, in a week or two, the Israeli ground operation would be effective," he said. On another matter, Hanegbi blamed the media for revealing classified military information and called for heavier military censorship of media reporting in the future. "There was a great deal of anger among committee members during the war, as there was among the majority of Israeli citizens, over what I would not describe as leaks, but more like negligence and irresponsibility in dealing with military secrecy," said Hanegbi. He said the IDF should have closed off more areas to reporters, as it did in previous wars. "It is inconceivable that broadcasters will report from Metulla and tell the enemy what they think the army is going to do next," said Hanegbi. "The army should be more concerned with saving lives and less with playing the game of enlightenment, openness and the public's right to know."