Lipkin-Shahak to head probe on handling of war

Defense Minister Amir Peretz appointed former Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak to head an external inquiry commission, charged with investigating the IDF's performance and preparation for the war in Lebanon. Former IAF chief Maj.-Gen. (res.) Herzl Bodinger, former Defense Ministry director-general Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ilan Biran, Logistics Directorate head Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ami Sagis and Teva chairman Eli Hurvitz were also named to the commission. The commission will check the IDF's level of preparedness prior to the war and investigate how well the General Staff and Northern Command performed from July 12 - the date of the kidnapping of two reservists - until August 14 when the cease-fire went into effect. It will publish its first report within three weeks. Ever since the cease-fire, there have been widespread calls for such a commission. Many returning reservists complained about the army's alleged failure to supply water, food and equipment. Defending the army against the claim that it was not sufficiently prepared for the war, OC Planning Directorate Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Harel told Channel 1: "We were prepared. We could have prepared more, but we were busy with other things." Materiel was insufficient, he said, because of cuts in the defense budget in recent years. One Labor MK said the party was "extremely disappointed" by Peretz's actions. "This reeks of Peretz trying to avoid an inquiry," said the MK. "We, as a party, should not support it." "There must be a thorough investigation, of the type past parliamentary committees have adopted, to probe this matter," said MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud).