Israel not your father's army

Sam Johns

Israel (BNW) —
I remember in 1967 when Israel kicked the dog shit out of Syria, Jordan and Egypt, and they did it in six day. It was said that the Israeli military was flying planes under clotheslines, but with the fight against Hezbollah militants, this is not your father’s Israeli army.

Israeli military chief of staff Lt Gen Dan Halutz has publicly admitted to failings in the conflict with Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.

In a letter to troops, he said it had exposed shortcomings in the military's logistics, operations and command.

There would be a thorough and honest investigation, he promised.

Meanwhile, Finland, holder of the EU presidency, has said it hopes fresh peacekeeping troops will be deployed to Lebanon within a week.

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja was speaking as he made whistle-stop visits to France and Germany to discuss Europe's contribution to the UN peacekeeping force.

"We would like to see the first reinforcements arrive within a week if possible," Tuomioja said. "The main thrust of the force should be there within a few weeks," he said, before adding that a full deployment might take months.

Earlier, he told BBC Radio 4's Today program that "in total we would hope that of the 15,000 almost a half would come from EU member states".

French President Jacques Chirac will reveal later on Thursday if his country is prepared to offer more than the 200 extra troops it has promised its former colony.

Apart from his conduct of the war, Gen Halutz has faced criticism for selling his entire stock market portfolio hours before the outbreak of fighting in Lebanon..

He has denied any wrongdoing.

"We have to proceed to a meaningful examination of the successes and the errors, "Gen Halutz said in his letter.

"We have to extract professional lessons, as we are faced with more challenges... This test concerns us all, from me down to the last soldier."

The Israeli army lost 116 soldiers. Forty-three civilians were also killed by more than 4,000 Hezbollah rocket attacks.

About 1,200 Lebanese were killed in the conflict, mostly civilians in Israel's vast bombardment of the county and land invasion in the south.

A cross-border raid by Hezbollah fighters in which they captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others sparked the conflict.

Throughout the military campaign against Lebanon, Israel's twin aims were the return of the captured Israeli soldiers and the removal of Hezbollah's influence from southern Lebanon.

Critics and opposition figures have said that neither of these aims has been achieved.

Independent inquiry call

Israel's Defense Minister, Amir Peretz, has set up a defense ministry inquiry to investigate how the military campaign in Lebanon was conducted.

The inquiry, headed by retired Israeli army chief Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, has already started work and is expected to produce an interim report within weeks.

Opposition politicians have called for an independent commission, not one appointed by Peretz.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to announce in the next few days a decision on whether to hold a full state commission into the conflict.

State commissions were ordered after the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the 1982 invasion of Lebanon - both conflicts in which the Israeli military was widely perceived to have underperformed.

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