Shahak panel to take 'many months' to probe war

Senior IDF officers say committee's legal status is unclear and misleading.

shahak 88 (photo credit: )
shahak 88
(photo credit: )
The committee set up to investigate the IDF's management of the war in Lebanon and led by former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak will need "many months" to complete its investigations and file a comprehensive report, a source in the committee told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. The committee was set up by Defense Minister Amir Peretz last week and given the mandate to probe the IDF's level of preparation for the war in Lebanon, as well as the management of operations in enemy territory by the General Staff and Northern Command from July 12 - the date of the kidnapping of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev - until August 14, when the cease-fire with Hizbullah went into effect. On Sunday, the committee met for the first time but with a small setback: former head of the Air Force Maj.-Gen. (res.) Herzl Bodinger pulled out of the committee and informed Shahak that personal circumstances prevented him from serving as a member. Former chairman of the Jewish Agency Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Romm was appointed to replace him. The other members of the committee are: former Defense Ministry director-general Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ilan Biran; former head of the IDF's Logistics Directorate Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ami Sagis; and chairman of the pharmaceutical giant Teva Eli Hurvitz. Hinting to the possible subpoena of IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz and other members of the General Staff, the source told the Post that the committee planned to summon all of the IDF officers involved in the decision-making process before and throughout the war in Lebanon. The meeting on Sunday, the source said, focused on splitting up the workload among the committee members. "We spoke about how to run the committee and who we will summon to appear before us," the source said. Senior IDF officers blasted the committee and claimed that its legal status was unclear and misleading. Halutz would, however, agree to appear before the committee if he were to be summoned, one officer predicted. According to Channel 2, the committee did not plan on recommending that sanctions be taken against IDF officers. Meanwhile Sunday, for the first time since the cease-fire went into effect, a high-ranking officer publicly accepted responsibility for some of the mishaps that occurred during Operation Change of Direction. "I wish I could have prepared the soldiers better for the fighting," said outgoing head infantry officer Brig.-Gen. Yossi Heiman. He added that "arrogance and haughtiness" were sometimes behind decisions made by the IDF. Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz, asked by reporters what his position was on how the problems that were revealed during the campaign against Hizbullah should be examined, released a statement. "The question of establishing a state commission of inquiry is up to the government," he said. "The attorney-general has been asked to examine the professional and legal tools that are at the disposal of the prime minister and the relevant ministers to conduct an investigation into the various aspects of the campaign. The attorney-general is, together with the relevant authorized people, looking into the various options and the legal aspects involved in each. The results of the examination will be consolidated in the coming days and presented to the political echelon." Meanwhile, Eliad Shraga, head of the Movement for Quality Government, announced on Sunday that he and other members of the organization were launching a hunger strike in Agranat Square outside the Supreme Court until the government decided to establish a judicial commission of inquiry to look into the preparedness of the home front and the conduct of the war. Shraga charged that the home front had been left to fend for itself without government help. "Among other things, very serious problems arose regarding the homes of the northern residents, the conditions of the bomb shelters, the support of the welfare services, and compensation to victims," charged Shraga. "Furthermore, serious questions arose regarding the conduct of the military campaign," he said, "including the preparation of the army reserves for the fighting, lack of logistical support for the combat ranks, the preparedness of tactical and strategic intelligence, as well as the ways in which the forces were put into operation - and, particularly, the failure to implement operational plans that had been prepared in advance."