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IDF operations chief Major General Gadi Eisenkut. (IDF Spokesman's Office)
Last update - 12:00 07/09/2006
General Staff officers warned PM: Last-minute expansion of war is a mistake
By Ze'ev Schiff, Haaretz Correspondent

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.

Beiditz 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.

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Eisenkut opposed the decision for operational reasons.

Professionals have 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.

The 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 decision.

Beiditz also opposed the decision, which was more exceptional, since he had not been invited to cabinet deliberations.

Halutz did not object to Beiditz' right to express an opinion, but chastised the officer for sending a letter directly to the prime minister.

However, senior intelligence officers and former chiefs of staff believe that Beiditz' position obligated him to express his opinion, even directly to the prime minister.

Olmert's military secretary, Major General Gad Shmani, also opposed the move, and advised the prime minister accordingly.

The IDF 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.

The General 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.

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  1.   Wrong! 05:10  |  dave 07/09/06
  2.   Expanded Ground Offensive-was right 05:58  |  Moses M. Twersky 07/09/06
  3.   #1, dave 06:09  |  Cipora Julianna Kohn 07/09/06
  4.   Failure in north and criminal in South 06:30  |  Samuel 07/09/06
  5.   Should go dowm in the annals of military blunders 07:08  |  raul 07/09/06
  6.   Moses # 2 07:28  |  Michael-Syd 07/09/06
  7.   Love those Cute French Tanks 07:31  |  aCuban 07/09/06
  8.   I would have prefered there were no ground offensive 07:34  |  Uri 07/09/06
  9.   failed photo op 08:10  |  Bryant 07/09/06
  10.   Why? 08:18  |  Hannah 07/09/06
  11.   Why? 08:18  |  Hannah 07/09/06
  12.   Dave 2 08:31  |  david sandler 07/09/06
  13.   Dump the looser 08:32  |  Sam 07/09/06
  14.   The nub of the matter 09:13  |  sh 07/09/06
  15.   dave # 1 That`s It In A Nutshell 09:20  |  Jeff Northridge 07/09/06
  16.   add this opinion to the other 10,000 at the time 09:43  |  mike 07/09/06
  17.   to Sam this is not the answer. 09:49  |  gus 07/09/06
  18.   Is there any outrage? 09:54  |  Muhammad 07/09/06
  19.   Byrant 41 more soldiers died for nothing. 09:57  |  gus 07/09/06
  20.   # 13 More blackmail and another 9/11 09:57  |  rich 07/09/06
  21.   different standards 10:26  |  Theodor 07/09/06
  22.   # 20 - victim of your fanatism 10:32  |  Lebanese 07/09/06
  23.   # 15 Jeff, you left out one person 10:36  |  dave 07/09/06
  24.   To the State of Terror 10:45  |  Imad 07/09/06
  25.   The whole war was a mistake 10:53  |  John 07/09/06
  26.   WAR IS NOT ALWAYS THE ANSWER 10:56  |  NeutralObserver 07/09/06
  27.   What PM Idiot And Circus Was Running The Show 11:04  |  Scrooge 07/09/06
  28.   you all miss the real point 11:27  |  clever guy 07/09/06
  29.   clever Guy 11:41  |  George 07/09/06
  30.   To Theodor, about different standards 11:52  |  John 07/09/06
  31.   Afraid that they will have to go with Halutz? 11:52  |  Robert 07/09/06
  32.   John, you missed the point 12:09  |  Theodor 07/09/06
  33.   To Sam nr.13 12:11  |  An EU voice 07/09/06
  34.   To Sam in Seattle 12:26  |  Real of A 07/09/06
  35.   22 13:29  |  rich 07/09/06
  36.   Israel`s real mistake was excessive restraint 13:34  |  Mrs Ita Peach 07/09/06
  37.   To Theodor, you are playing old zionist games 13:41  |  John 07/09/06
  38.   OLmert and gang sold the country 15:55  |  George 07/09/06
  39.   to Jeff #15 16:02  |  Jihad 07/09/06
  40.   to # 20 16:21  |  Jihad 07/09/06
  41.   Expansion of War 22:57  |  P. J. Casey 07/09/06
  42.   Theodor 20 01:11  |  potaboc 10/09/06
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