Israeli Supreme Court rejects plea for broad probe of war

The panel of the High Court reviewing a petition from The Movement for Quality Government in Israel to demand a State Commission of Inquiry on the summer, 2006, war in Lebanon, rejected the petition in a 4-3 vote. As Haaretz reports, the Justices nonetheless criticized the government for creating a much weaker panel to review the actions leading up to and during the war, which the petitioner sought to replace with a more independent State Commission:

The High Court’s abstention does not indicate its contentment with the way in which the government made the decision, nor does it give its seal of public approval for appointing the committee…

IDF admits it targeted civilian areas with cluster bombs

I wish I could say this was a surprise. After months of claiming otherwise, there is now growing evidence that the IDF General Staff itself selected targets throughout Lebanon to be hit with cluster munitions.

The attempt to fight a war against a popular militia with air power was foolish enough. Using cluster bombs to do so is criminal. There is no other word for it. Cluster munitions are designed for their effectiveness at killing large formations of enemy troops, because each shell contains hundredes of bomblets that disperse in a wide area. Used in towns and cities, they kill civilians. This is the very opposite of the “precision” targeting the Israeli government officials claimed to be using during the summer war in Lebanon. In fact, a reserve officer states that his orders were to “flood” the areas being targeted.

“Insane and Monstrous”

What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs…”

These are the words of the head of an IDF rocket unit in the recent Israeli war in Lebanon. He also describes the use of incendiary phosphorous shells on towns, and the firing from Multiple Launch Rocket System platforms that were known to be highly inaccurate–a margin of error of up to 1,200 meters.

So much for the claims of “proportionate” force and “precision” targeting.


It never would have occurred to me, but these names–that of US House Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) and Lebanese President Emil Lahoud–are variants, and reflect a “distant” family relationship. (I wonder if Joe Lahoud is also related?)

This tidbit of information is contained within a JPost article that begins:

Israel will be watching a meeting of the foreign ministers of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia scheduled for Tuesday in Cairo with “interest, but little expectation,” senior diplomatic officials said Monday.

The roots of Israel’s strategic unpreparedness

From an essay by Gershon Baskin in the Jerusalem Times, republished at the Meretz USA blog:

The problem’s roots can be found in the policies that were developed and implemented in the days of Chief of Staff Ehud Barak (1991-1995). Barak’s concept, mirroring what he saw in the United States following the first Gulf war was that Israel needed a small, intelligent and sophisticated fighting force. Translating that concept into policy and planning meant investing huge sums first and foremost in the air force, in modern technologies, and in scaling down the reserve forces, depending on elite units of the regular army. Since 1991, Israel invested the major parts of its military budgets into these areas and scaled down the dependence on ground infantry units. The overall dependence of Israel on the air force during the beginning of this war was not because the Chief of Staff came from the air force, but because that was the entire military concept of the IDF since Barak’s time. This concept is good perhaps for the United States when it attacked Kosovo, or even when they launched the attack against the Saddam Hussein regime, but is it the right concept for Israel? Perhaps, if Israel had to go to war against another army it would be right, but it appeared to the quite wrong regarding a war against a guerilla fighting force.

This gives the US too much credit for its own reliance on air power. In Kosova, the US military had a guerrilla army on the ground on its side (and was indeed fighting an adversary that was a state). And in Iraq, the strategy was woefully unprepared for dealing with the inevitable emergence of the post-Hussein resistance. We could probably tell a similar story of strategy unprepared for the situation encountered in Afghanistan.

The post is one of a series at Meretz USA on the aftermath of the recent fighting.

It was an existential threat, right?

Yeah, right.

When [Defense Minister Amir] Peretz took office four months ago, Hezbollah and the missile threat were at the bottom of the priority list senior IDF officers presented him, Peretz says.

In private conversations over the past few days, Peretz said officers did not tell him there was a strategic threat to Israel, and did not present him with all relevant information about the missile threat.

From a Haaretz story, mostly about opposition calls for a full commission of inquiry (and it would be no insiders-investigating-themselves commisson like the 9/11 Commission) into the political as well as military dimensions of this war.

UPDATE: As often happens, Chris forces me to think this through more!