Israeli minister: World encouraged us to pound Lebanon

Tuesday, June 26, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

A former Israeli cabinet minister said that Israel entered last summer's war in Lebanon expecting it to be a limited operation lasting only a few days due to anticipated international pressure. But that pressure never came, and the bloody conflict dragged on for 34 days as Israeli forces pounded away at their enemy with no clear operational objective.

“The leading diplomatic sources... gave us a working premise that we didn't have much time to work with, and that we needed to act until we would be stopped - but then no one stopped us,” former Minister of Science, Culture and Sports Ofir Pines-Paz told the Winograd Commission on Monday.

“Not only did no one stop us, they encouraged us, and we let this go to our heads,” Pines-Paz was further quoted as saying by Ha'aretz.

Reports during the early days of the war indicated that the US and major European powers were in fact encouraging Israel to end Hizballah's domination of southern Lebanon once and for all. When it eventually became clear that Israel was failing to make any significant progress in destroying its enemy, the UN stepped in with an imposed ceasefire.

The Winograd Commission was established last year to investigate the Israeli government's mishandling of the war, which most view as a strategic victory for Hizballah and its sponsors in Syria and Iran.

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