In the fall of 2006, Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, appointed the Winograd Commission to investigate the events of the Second Lebanon War. The Commission was a response to mounting public criticism of the Israeli government and military’s handling of the war. The Commission, chaired by retired judge Eliyahu Winograd, reviewed the relevant material and listened to testimony from key figures including Directorate of Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin, Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and Director-General of the Ministry of Defense Gabi Ashkenazi.
On April 30, 2007 the Commission released an Interim Report covering the years 2000-2006–leading up to the war and the first few days of the war. The report included serious criticism of Prime Minister Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and Chief of Staff Dan Halutz. It called the trio out for choosing an immediate and intensive military strike without a detailed, comprehensive, and authorized military plan. It also criticized them for failing to consider a policy of containment, or combining political and diplomatic moves with the military strikes. Though the report did not go so far as to recommend the resignation of any leaders, it eventually led to the resignation of both Peretz and Halutz. Olmert did not step down at that point, but polls showed that 80% of the Israeli public was in favor of his resignation.
The Winograd Commission Final Report was submitted on January 30, 2008. It confirmed the findings of the Interim Report, concluding that the Second Lebanon War was a “serious missed opportunity” that ended “without a clear military victory.” The report found “serious failings” in the government and military’s decision-making, the military’s preparedness for the war, strategic thinking and planning, and defense of the Israeli civilian population. It was particularly critical of the ineffective and poorly planned ground offensive.
The report accused Olmert of “serious failure in exercising judgment, responsibility and prudence.” Olmert resigned in July 2008 in response both to the findings of the Winograd Report and corruption charges from earlier in his career.
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