The following are select excerpts of the primary findings of the Winograd Commission into the handling of last summer's Second Lebanon War, as communicated by Israel's Government Press Office:
The decision to respond [to Hizballah's cross-border abduction of two Israeli soldiers] 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 no 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 taken.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The report concluded that:
"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."