Two Israel Defense Forces General
Staff officers, operations chief Major General Gadi Eisenkut
and the Intelligence Division's head of research, Brigadier
General Yossi Beiditz, strongly opposed last month's decision
to launch a broad ground offensive against Hezbollah shortly
before the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for
a cease-fire in the war in Lebanon.
The decision to
embark on the operation was made on Wednesday, August 9, when
it was already clear that the Security Council would vote on a
cease-fire resolution soon thereafter. The council in fact
passed the resolution at 5 A.M. on Saturday.
wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense
Minister Amir Peretz that his division believed that the
last-minute offensive would not significantly affect the enemy
or lead to achievements. Beiditz sent a copy of the letter to
Chief of Staff Dan Halutz.
Eisenkut opposed the
decision for operational reasons.
debated two significant ground battles that were conducted
during the war.
One took place in the war's early
stages in the Shi'ite town of Bint Jbail, where Hezbollah
built a complex of bunkers and tunnels. The town was viewed by
Israel as being symbolically important because it is where
Hassan Nasrallah delivered his "cobweb" speech in which he
argued that Israel and its society were fragile like the web
of a spider.
The operation against the town, which IDF
forces had to retake several times, led to significant losses.
The second operation under debate was the major ground
offensive launched toward the end of the war. Forces began to
move forward soon after the decision was made on Wednesday,
August 9, but the operation was surprisingly delayed by 24
hours. And on Thursday, a decision was made to delay the
operation for another 24 hours. As a result, many of the units
found themselves "stuck" in the field. During this two-day
period, eight elite unit soldiers were killed.
final decision to begin the offensive was made on Friday at
noon, and the Security Council passed its resolution later
that day. The government accepted the cease-fire resolution
during its meeting on Sunday, and it went into effect at 8
A.M. on Monday.
A heated debate took place over the
offensive. Halutz supported the decision wholeheartedly, and
continues to support it. Eisenkut strongly opposed the
Beiditz also opposed the decision, which was
more exceptional, since he had not been invited to cabinet
Halutz did not object to Beiditz' right
to express an opinion, but chastised the officer for sending a
letter directly to the prime minister.
intelligence officers and former chiefs of staff believe that
Beiditz' position obligated him to express his opinion, even
directly to the prime minister.
secretary, Major General Gad Shmani, also opposed the move,
and advised the prime minister accordingly.
leadership said prior to the launch of the offensive that it
could meet its targets within 96 hours. The forces eventually
had only 72 hours to carry out its tasks.
Staff claimed that the UN resolution had been improved in
Israel's favor due to pressure caused by the offensive.
During the operation, 33 IDF soldiers were killed and
many more were injured.