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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Dec 04th
Winograd Commission Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by WSJ   
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Winograd Report
Winograd Report

Official English summary of the Winograd's panel interim report

Press Release

1. On September 17th 2006 The Government of Israel decided, under section
8A of The Government Act 2001, to appoint a governmental commission of
examination “To look into the preparation and conduct of the political and the
security levels concerning all the dimensions of the Northern Campaign
which started on July 12th 2006”. Today we have submitted to the Prime
Minister and the Minister of Defence the classified interim report, and we are
now presenting the inclassified report to the public.

2. The Commission was appointed due to a strong sense of a crisis and deep
disappointment with the consequences of the campaign and the way it was
conducted. We regarded accepted this difficult task both as a duty and a
privilege. It is our belief that the larger the event and the deeper the feeling of
crisis – the greater the opportunity to change and improve matters which are
essential for the security and the flourishing of state and society in Israel.
We believe Israeli society has great strength and resilience, with a robust
sense of the justice of its being and of its achievements. These, too, were
expressed during the war in Lebanon and after it. At the same time, we must
not underrated deep failures among us.

3. This conception of our role affected the way we operated. No one
underestimates the need to study what happened in the past, including the
imposition of personal responsibility. The past is the key for learning lessons
for the future. Nonetheless, learning these lessons and actually
implementing them are the most implication of the conclusions of the

4. This emphasis on learning lessons does not only follow from our conception
of the role of a public Commission. It also follows from our belief that one
Israeli society greatest sources of strength is its being a free, open and
creative. Together with great achievements, the challenges facing it are
existential. To cope with them, Israel must be a learning society – a society
which examines its achievements and, in particular, its failures, in order to
improve its ability to face the future.

5. Initially we hoped that the appointment of the Commission will serve as an
incentive to accelerate learning processes in the relevant systems, while we
are working, so that we could devote our time to study all of the materials in
depth, and present the public with a comprehensive picture. However,
learning processes have been limited. In some ways an opposite, and
worrying, process emerged – a process of ‘waiting’ for the Commission’s
Report before energetic and determined action is taken to redress failures
which have been revealed.

6. Therefore we decided to publish initially an Interim Report, focusing on the
decisions related to starting the war. We do this in the hope that the
relevant bodies will act urgently to change and correct all that it implies. We
would like to reiterate and emphasize that we hope that this Partial Report,
which concentrates on the functioning of the highest political and military
echelons in their decision to move into the war will not divert attention from
the overall troubling complete picture revealed by the war as a whole.

7. The interim report includes a numer of chapters dealing with the following

a. The Commissions’ conception of its role, and its attitude to
recommendations in general and to recommendations dealing
with specific persons in particular. (chapter 2): We see as the
main task of a public commission of inquiry (or investigation) to
determine findings and conclusions, and present them- with its
recommendations – before the public and decision makers so that
they can take action. A public commission should not – in most cases
– replace the usual political decision-making processes and determine
who should serve as a minister or senior military commander.
Accordingly, we include personal conclusions in the interim report,
without personal recommendations. However, we will reconsider this
matter towards our Final Report in view of the depiction of the war as
a whole.

b. The way we balanced our desire to engage in a speedy and
efficient investigation with the rights of those who may be
negatively affected to ‘natural justice’ (chapter 3): The special
stipulations of the Commissions of Inquiry Act in this regard do not
apply to a governmental commission of Examination, but we regard
ourselves, naturally, as working under the general principles of natural
justice. The commission notified those who may be affected by its
investigation, in detailed letters of invitation, of the ways in which they
may be negatively affected, and enabled them to respond to
allegations against them, without sending “notices of warning” and
holding a quasi-judicial hearing before reaching out conclusions. We
believe that in this way we provided all who may be negatively
affected by our report with a full opportunity to answer all allegations
against them.

c. The processes and developments in the period between the
withdrawal of the IDF from Lebanon until July 11, 2006 which
contributed to the background of the Lebanon War (Chapter 4):
These processes created much of the factual background against
which the decision-makers had to operate on July 12th, and they are
thus essential to both the understanding and the evaluation of the
events of the war. Understanding them is also essential for drawing
lessons from the events, whose significance is often broader than that
of the war itself.

8. The core of the interim report is a detailed examination of the decisions of
senior political and military decision-makers concerning the decision to go to
war at the wake of the abduction of the two soldiers on the morning of July
12th. We start with the decision of the government on the fateful evening of
the 12th to authorize a sharp military response, and end with the speech of
the Prime Minister in the Knesset on July 17th, when he officially presented
the campaign and its goals. These decisions were critical and constitutive,
and therefore deserve separate investigation. We should note that these
decisions enjoyed broad support within the government, the Knesset and the
public throughout this period.

9. Despite this broad support, we determine that there are very serious failings
in these decisions and the way they were made. We impose the primary
responsibility for these failures on the Prime Minister, the minister of defence
and the (outgoing) Chief of Staff. All three made a decisive personal
contribution to these decisions and the way in which they were made.
However, there are many others who share responsibility for the mistakes we
found in these decisions and for their background conditions.

10. The main failures in the decisions made and the decision-making processes
can be summed up as follows:

a. The decision to respond with an immediate, intensive military strike
was not based on a detailed, comprehensive and authorized
military plan, based on carefull study of the complex characteristics
of the Lebanon arena . A meticulous examination of these
characteristics would have revealed the following: the ability to
achieve military gains having significant political-international
weight was limited; an Israeli military strike would inevitably lead to
missiles fired at the Israeli civilian north; there was not other
effective military response to such missile attacks than an extensive
and prolonged ground operation to capture the areas from which
the missiles were fired – which would have a high “cost” and which
did not enjoy broad support. These difficulties were not explicitly
raised with the political leaders before the decision to strike was

b. Consequently, in making the decision to go to war, the government
did not consider the whole range of options, including that of
continuing the policy of ‘containment’, or combining political and
diplomatic moves with military strikes below the ‘escalation level’, or
military preparations without immediage military action -- so as to
maintain for Israel the full range of responses to the abduction.
This failure reflects weakness in strategic thinking, which derives
the response to the event from a more comprehensive and
encompassing picture.

c. The support in the cabinet for this move was gained in part through
ambiguity in the presentation of goals and modes of operation, so
that ministers with different or even contradictory attitudes could
support it. The ministers voted for a vague decision, without
understanding and knowing its nature and implications. They
authorized to commence a military campaign without considering
how to exit it.

d. Some of the declared goals of the war were not clear and could not
be achieved, and in part were not achieveable by the authorized
modes of military action.

e. The IDF did not exhibit creativity in proposing alternative action
possibilities, did not alert the political decision-makers to the
discrepancy between its own scenarios and the authorized modes
of action, and did not demand – as was necessary under its own
plans – early mobilization of the reserves so they could be
equipped and trained in case a ground operation would be required.

f. Even after these facts became known to the political leaders, they
failed to adapt the military way of operation and its goals to the
reality on the ground. On the contrary, declared goals were too
ambitious, and it was publicly states that fighting will continue till
they are achieved. But the authorized military operations did not
enable their achievement.

11. The primary responsibility for these serious failings rests with the Prime
Minister, the minister of defense and the (outgoing) Chief of Staff. We single
out these three because it is likely that had any of them acted better – the
decisions in the relevant period and the ways they were made, as well as the
outcome of the war, would have been significantly better.

12. Let us start with the Prime Minister.

a. The Prime Minister bears supreme and comprehensive
responsibility for the decisions of ‘his’ government and the
operations of the army. His responsibility for the failures in the
initial decisions concerning the war stem from both his position and
from his behavior, as he initiated and led the decisions which were

b. The Prime Minister made up his mind hastily, despite the fact that
no detailed military plan was submitted to him and without asking
for one. Also, his decision was made without close study of the
complex features of the Lebanon front and of the military, political
and diplomatic options available to Israel. He made his decision
without systematic consultation with others, especially outside the
the IDF, despite not having experience in external-political and
military affairs. In addition, he did not adequately consider political
and professional reservations presented to him before the fateful
decisions of July 12th.

c. The Prime Minister is responsible for the fact that the goals of the
campaign were not set out clearly and carefully, and that there was
no serious discussion of the relationships between these goals and
the authorized modes of military action. He nade a personal
contribution to the fact that the declared goals were over-ambitious
and not feasible.

d. The Prime Minister did not adapt his plans once it became clear
that the assumptions and expectations of Israel’s actions were not
realistic and were not materializing.

e. All of these add up to a serious failure in exercising judgment,
responsibility and prudence.

13. The Minister of Defence is the minister responsible for overseeing the IDF,
and he is a senior member in the group of leaders in charge of politicalmilitary

a. The Minister of Defence did not have knowledge or experience in
military, political or governmental matters. He also did not have good
knowledge of the basic principles of using military force to achieve
political goals.

b. Despite these serious gaps, he made his decisions during this period
without systemic consultations with experienced political and
professional experts, including outside the security establishment. In
addition, he did not give adequate weight to reservations expressed
in the meetings he attended.

c. The Minister of Defence did not act within a strategic conception of the
systems he oversaw. He did not ask for the IDF’s operational plans
and did not examine them; he did not check the preparedness and
fitness of IDF; and did not examine the fit between the goals set
and the modes of action presented and authorized for achieving them.
His influence on the decisions made was mainly pointillist and
operational. He did not put on the table – and did not demand
presentation – of serious strategic options for discussion with the
Prime Minister and the IDF.

d. The Minister of Defence did not develop an independent assessment
of the implications of the complexity of the front for Israel’s proper
response, the goals of the campaign, and the relations between
military and diplomatic moves within it. His lack of experience and
knowledge prevented him from challenging in a competent way both
the IDF, over which he was in charge, and the Prime Minister.

e. In all these ways, the Minister of Defence failed in fulfilling his
functions. Therefore, his serving as Minister of Defence during
the war impaired Israel’s ability to respond well to its challenges.

14. The Chief of Staff (COS) is the supreme commander of the IDF, and the
main source of information concerning the army, its plans, abilities and
recommendations presented to the political echelon. Furthermore, the COS’s
personal involvement with decision making within the army and in
coordination with the political echelon were dominant.

a. The army and the COS were not prepared for the event of the
abduction despite recurring alerts. When the abduction happened,
he responded impulsively. He did not alert the political leaders to
the complexity of the situation, and did not present information,
assessments and plans that were available in the IDF at various
levels of planning and approval and which would have enabled a
better response to the challenges.

b. Among other things, the COS did not alert the political echelon to
the serious shortcomings in the preparedness and the fitness of the
armed forces for an extensive ground operation, if that became
necessary. In addition, he did not clarify that the military
assessments and analyses of the arena were that a military strike
against Hezbollah will with a high probability make such a move

c. The COS’s responsibility is aggravated by the fact that he knew
well that both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense
lacked adequate knowledge and experience in these matters, and
by the fact that he had led them to believe that the IDF was ready
and prepared and had operational plans fitting the situation.

d. The COS did not provide adequate responses to serious
reservation about his recommendations raised by ministers and
others during the first days of the campaign, and he did not present
to the political leaders the internal debates within the IDF
concerning the fit between the stated goals and the authorized
modes of actions.

e. In all these the Chief of Staff failed in his duties as commander in
chief of the army and as a critical part of the political-military
leadership, and exhibited flaws in professionalism, responsibility
and judgment.

15. Concomitantly we determine that the failures listed here, and in the
outcomes of the war, had many other partners.

a. The complexity of the Lebanon scene is basically outside Israel’s

b. The ability of Hezbollah to sit ‘on the border’, its ability to dictate the
moment of escalation, and the growth of its military abilities and
missile arsenal increased significantly as a result of Israel’s
unilateral withdrawal in May 2000 (which was not followed, as had
been hoped, by The Lebanese Army deploying on the border with

c. The shortcomings in the preparedness and the training of the
army, its operational doctrine, and various flaws in its organizational
culture and structure, were all the responsibility of the military
commanders and political leaders in charge years before the
present Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Chief of Staff took

d. On the political-security strategic level, the lack of preparedness
was also caused by the failure to update and fully articulate Israel’s
security strategy doctrine, in the fullest sense of that term, so that it
could not serve as a basis for coping comprehensively will all the
challenges facing Israel. Responsibility for this lack of an
updates national security strategy lies with Israel’s
governments over the years. This omission made it difficult to
devise an immediate proper response to the abduction, because it
led to stressing an immediate and sharp military strike. If the
response had been derived from a more comprehensive security
strategy, it would have been easier to take into account Israel’s
overall balance of strengths and vulnerabilities, including the
preparedness of the civil population.

e. Another factor which largely contributed to the failures is the
weakness of the high staff work available to the political leadership.
This weakness existed under all previous Prime Ministers and this
continuing failure is the responsibility of these PMs and their
cabinets. The current political leadership did not act in a way
that could compensate for this lack, and did not rely sufficiently
on other bodies within and outside the security system that could
have helped it.

f. Israel’s government in its plenum failed in its political function of
taking full responsibility for its decisions. It did not explore and seek
adequate response for various reservations that were raised, and
authorized an immediate military strike that was not thoughtthrough
and suffered from over-reliance on the judgment of the
primary decision-makers.

g. Members of the IDF’s general staff who were familiar with the
assessments and intelligence concerning the Lebanon front, and
the serious deficiencies in preparedness and training, did not insist
that these should be considered within the army, and did not alert
the political leaders concerning the flaws in the decisions and the
way they were made.

16. As a result of our investigation, we make a number of structural and
institutional recommendations, which require urgent attention:

a. The improvement of the quality of discussions and decision making
within the government through strengthening and deepening staff
work; strict enforcement of the prohibition of leaks; improving the
knowledge base of all members of the government on core issues
of Israel’s challenges, and orderly procdures for presentation of
issues for discussion and resolution.

b. Full incorporation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in security
decisions with political and diplomatic aspects.

c. Substantial improvement in the functioning of the National Security
Council, the establishment of a national assessment team, and
creating a center for crises management in the Prime Minister’s

17. We regard it is of great importance to make findings, reach conclusions and
present recommendations on the other critical issues which emerged in this
war. We will cover them in the final report, which we strive to conclude soon.
These subjects include, among others, the direction of the war was led and
its management by the political echelon; the conduct of the military campaign
by the army; the civil-military relationship in the war; taking care of Israel’s
civilian population under missile attack; the diplomatic negotiations by the
Prime Minister’s office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; censorship, the
media and secrecy; the effectiveness of Israel’s media campaign; and the
discussion of various social and political processes which are essential for a
comprehensive analysis of the events of the war and their significance.

18. Let us add a few final comments: It took the government till March 2007 to
name the events of the summer of 2006 ‘The Second Lebanon War’. After 25
years without a war, Israel experienced a war of a different kind. The war
thus brought back to center stage some critical questions that parts of Israeli
society preferred to avoid.

19. The IDF was not ready for this war. Among the many reasons for this we can
mention a few: Some of the political and military elites in Israel have reached
the conclusion that Israel is beyond the era of wars. It had enough military
might and superiority to deter others from declaring war against her; these
would also be sufficient to send a painful reminder to anyone who seemed to
be undeterred; since Israel did not intend to initiate a war, the conclusion was
that the main challenge facing the land forces would be low intensity
asymmetrical conflicts.

20. Given these assumptions, the IDF did not need to be prepared for ‘real’ war.
There was also no urgent need to update in a systematic and sophisticated
way Israel’s overall security strategy and to consider how to mobilize and
combine all its resources and sources of strength – political, economic,
social, military, spiritual. cultural and scientific – to address the totality of the
challenges it faces.

21. We believe that – beyond the important need to examine the failures of
conducting the war and the preparation for it, beyond the need to identify the
weaknesses (and strengths) in the decisions made in the war – these are
the main questions raised by the Second Lebanon war. These are
10 questions that go far beyond the mandate of this or that commission of
inquiry; they are the questions that stand at the center of our existence
here as a Jewish and democratic state. It would be a grave mistake to
concentrate only on the flaws revealed in the war and not to address these
basic issues.

We hope that our findings and conclusions in the interim report and in the
final report will not only impel taking care of the serious governmental
flaws and failures we examine and expose, but will also lead towards a
renewed process in which Israeli society, and its political and spiritual
leaders will take up and explore Israel’s long-term aspirations and the
ways to advance them.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 24 February 2008 )
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