Peretz tries to blame IDF


Richard Moore


The IDF is, I believe, highly respected in Israel. Methinks Peretz puts nail in 
his own coffin here.


Original source URL:

Israel downplayed Hezbollah's arsenal
By AMY TEIBEL, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 11 minutes ago

Israel's defense minister, his credentials already in question before the 
just-ended war in Lebanon, says the military downplayed the extent of the 
Hezbollah guerrilla group's missile threat when he took office, according to a 
newspaper report Thursday.

As public criticism of the war's handling mounted in Israel, the Haaretz daily 
quoted Defense Minister Amir Peretz as saying top military officers did not 
relay all relevant information about Hezbollah's arsenal after he took office in

Hezbollah fired nearly 4,000 rockets at Israel during 34 days of fighting, 
including several medium-range missiles that for the first time hit Israel's 
third-largest city, Haifa. A truce Monday halted the violence that killed 39 
civilians and 118 soldiers.

Security officials said the military command decided earlier this year, for 
budgetary reasons, to halt development of advanced systems that would have 
protected tanks against missiles. After Hezbollah's anti-tank missiles killed 
dozens of Israeli soldiers, the Defense Ministry and army have decided to 
develop and install the systems, the officials said.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of 
armaments development.

With the lull in fighting, the unity that held the Israeli public together 
during the war has shattered. Military commanders and armchair generals alike 
have begun questioning key decisions taken by Israel's wartime leaders.

Among the complaints are the terms of the truce, a heavy reliance on airstrikes 
in the early phase of the war and a massive ground offensive ordered as the 
cease-fire deal seemed imminent.

Peretz, head of the dovish Labor Party, has drawn more fire than Prime Minister 
Ehud Olmert and military chief Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz. Peretz is the only one of 
the three whom a majority of the public wants out, according to a poll earlier 
this week by the Dahaf Research Institute.

While some observers had welcomed the appointment of a civilian to head the 
Defense Ministry, others questioned the wisdom of choosing a former union boss 
who spent much of his brief and unremarkable military service fixing tanks.

"The appointment of Amir Peretz as defense minister was a crazy idea," political
commentator Nahum Barnea wrote on the front page of the Yediot Ahronot newspaper
Thursday, calling on him to resign.

Peretz, meanwhile, has appointed former military chief Amnon Lipkin-Shahak to 
review the handling of the war, but not his own conduct.

The Israeli army began handing over positions to the U.N. early Thursday, 
stepping up its withdrawal from southern Lebanon after the Lebanese government 
agreed to deploy troops near Israel's border for the first time in 40 years.

More than 50 percent of the areas Israel holds have been transferred already, 
the army said in a statement.

At the peak of the fighting earlier this week, some 30,000 Israeli troops had 
been in Lebanon.

U.N. vehicles crossed into Lebanon from Israel on Thursday as Israeli soldiers 
loaded tanks onto carriers for transport south. Enormous fields in northern 
Israel that had been full of tanks and artillery vehicles a day earlier were 
almost empty on Thursday.

Israel Humvees patrolled the northern border, while dozens of troops patrolled 
the northern town of Kiryat Shemona looking for unexploded Hezbollah rockets.

The U.N.-brokered truce authorizes up to 15,000 U.N. peacekeepers to help 15,000
Lebanese troops extend their authority throughout southern Lebanon, which 
Hezbollah had controlled before Israel invaded.

The aim is to create a buffer zone free of Hezbollah fighters between the Litani
River, 18 miles north of Israel, and the U.N.-drawn border with Israel.

Following talks with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York on Wednesday,
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Israel wanted the expanded U.N. force 
to help monitor the Lebanese border to prevent Iran and Syria from replenishing 
Hezbollah's weapons.

And in Washington, Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Israel had destroyed 
almost all of the militia's missiles, one-quarter of their short-range rockets 
and all the missile bases.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press.
Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

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