IDF fears Winograd will hurt enlistment

Report may bring our image to a low point, official says; Labor activists ask Barak to quit coalition.

Halutz speaks 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Halutz speaks 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Senior members of the defense establishment were fearful Tuesday that harsh criticism of the IDF in the final Winograd report would hurt the army's image and lower motivation to serve, Army Radio reported. "We have done a lot to implement the lessons learned during the [Second Lebanon War]," an army official told the radio station anonymously. "The report may take us back to the low point we were at immediately after the [war]." The army planned to stress in the near future the changes it has made since the war, such as frequent and rigorous training exercises, rewritten combat strategies and new management. The Final Winograd Report: All the latest news and analyses According to the radio report, most of the criticism in the final report was expected to be aimed at the members of the IDF's General Staff during the war, and specifically their head, former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz . "The political and operational echelons were led by an army chief who was captivated by a certain conception," Maj.-Gen (res.) Eyal Ben-Reuven, who served as Deputy OC Northern Command during the war, told Israel Radio. But the army, he said, "needs the Winograd report least of all, as it has learned the lessons and fixed that which required fixing." In his opinion, Israel's decision makers followed Halutz blindly because they did not have the leadership capabilities to guide his actions. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should take personal responsibility for his failures and resign, Ben-Reuven said. Meanwhile, Kadima MK Otniel Schneller said Tuesday that "if the [Winograd] report implies unequivocally that Olmert must step down, then we are sure that he will draw the right conclusions." In a letter that he circulated among party members, Schneller stated that in any other scenario Olmert must stay in office to lead the country and repair its failings. As the release of the report loomed closer, pressure was increasing on Labor Chairman Ehud Barak to make his decision on whether or not Labor would remain in Olmert's coalition. In a letter circulated Tuesday, Labor activists called On Barak to leave the government without delay, Army Radio reported. "Governmental stability is important, but we must also address [issues of] responsibility and national morality and make courageous decisions," read the letter authored by prominent Labor activist Yuval Elbashan. Additional Labor members were expected to sign the letter Tuesday morning, before it was presented to Barak. But other leftist leaders called on Barak to hold on to his position. Peace Now Director-General Yariv Oppenheimer said Tuesday that Labor should not quit the coalition, because such a move would endanger the peace process with the Palestinians. "Israel's security is of no less importance than personal responsibility, the diplomatic process is no less important than personal responsibility and the rehabilitation of the military is no small thing," Oppenheimer was quoted by Army Radio as saying. "Must we do away with the entire package and send Israel into an election frenzy?"