New York – Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reservists, having returned home from combat duty in Lebanon, have issued a call for the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, to resign over the conduct of the 34-day war which ended with the Lebanese Islamist terrorist group Hizballah still armed and on the ground in southern Lebanon. In addition to Olmerts resignation, some reservists have also called for the resignations of the Defense Minister, Amir Peretz, and the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz. Veteran Haaretz columnist, Ari Shavit, has written of the problems Ehud Olmert that, Chances are that within about two months [Olmert] will no longer be Israels prime minister … politically, Olmert is a dead man walking (Haaretz, August 17).
One group of about 200 from the reservist Infantry Brigade 8101 gathered in front of Mr. Olmerts Jerusalem office after a protest march through the city. Reservist Yossi Avigur said, When a CEO fails, they usually fire him. There were big mistakes — mistakes that even the simple soldier could see. They didnt give us the tools to win, and they didnt give us the momentum to win. Reservists told of insufficient provisions, of having no water in the summer heat and being forced to drink from canteens of dead Hezbollah guerrillas, shortages of combat equipment and indecisive orders. (Washington Times, August 22).
The IDF Deputy Chief of General Staff, Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky, admitted today that the IDF hadnt adequately prepared for the war in Lebanon. Speaking before the reservists lobby in the Knesset, he noted that there were some mistakes in getting the reservists equipment ready and that it took time until we managed to repair the situation (Jerusalem Post, August 22).
The following is the text of a petition signed by IDF reservists from the Spearhead Brigade, published in Haaretz, August 21:
We, fighters and commanders at the Spearhead [Hod Hachanit] Brigade, were called up to enlist under an emergency mobilization order [Tzav 8] on July 30, 2006. Our attendance was complete in all battalions.
As we were signing on the battle equipment and weapons, we knew that we were signing for much more. We left behind wives and children, girlfriends and families. We put aside our jobs and livelihoods; we were prepared to carry out our mission under the most difficult of conditions, in heat, thirst or hunger.
At the back of his mind, each and every one of us knew, that for the just cause of protecting the citizens of Israel, we would even put our lives on the line.
But there was one thing we were not and would not be willing to accept: We were unwilling to accept indecisiveness. The wars aim, which was not defined clearly, was even changed in the course of the fighting.
The indecisiveness manifested itself in inaction, in not carrying out operational plans, and in canceling all the missions we were given during the fighting. This led to prolonged stays in hostile territory, without an operational purpose and out of unprofessional considerations, without seeking to engage in combat with the enemy.
The cold feet of the decision-makers were evident everywhere. To us the indecisiveness expressed deep disrespect for our willingness to join the ranks and fight and made us feel as though we had been spat on, since it contradicts the principles and values of warfare upon which we were trained at the Israel Defense Forces.
The heavy feeling that in the echelons above us there is nothing but under-preparation, insincerity, lack of foresight and inability to make rational decisions, leads to the question – were we called up for nothing?
We are now on the day after, and it seems that the immorality and the absence of any shame are the fig-leaves to be used in order to cover up for the blunders. The blunders of the past six years and the under-preparation of the army have been carried on our backs – the backs of the fighters. In order to face the next battle prepared – and this may happen soon – a thorough and fundamental change must take place.
The crisis of confidence between us as fighters and the higher echelons will not be resolved without a thorough and worthy investigative commission under the auspices of the state. When the commission completes its task, conclusions must be drawn both on the level of strategic planning and national security, and on the personal level of the parties involved.
We paid a heavy price in order to fight and come out of the battle victorious, and we feel this has been denied of us. We will all attend calls to enlist in the future for any mission we will be required to complete, but we would like to know that these missions will be part of a clear objective and will be carried out by striving to engage in combat.
As soldiers and citizens we expect a response at your earliest convenience,
We the undersigned
Fighters and officers of the Spearhead Brigade.