Olmert Claims Lebanon War Was a Success

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared Thursday during a tour of Israel's northern border that the war he launched against Hezbollah a year ago was a success that made Israel safer.

Olmert Claims Lebanon War Was a Success
Flouting the widely accepted view that the 34-day conflict was a failure, Olmert said Israel is better off today than it was at the outset of fighting on July 12, 2006. Olmert's political fortunes plummeted in the wake of the conflict, and he remains deeply unpopular.

"We had in this war great achievements," Olmert said near a road that was hit by one of the nearly 4,000 rockets that Hezbollah fired into Israel last summer. "We also had not a few weaknesses and failures that we are trying to deal with ... to fix, to deploy, to renovate and to strengthen."

Olmert's tour included an army outpost on the border and a school that had been hit by a rocket.

The fighting erupted when Hezbollah attacked Israeli soldiers in a border patrol, killing three and capturing two others. In retaliation, Israel launched a military campaign in southern Lebanon that killed more than 1,000 Lebanese, most of them civilians, and caused heavy damage.

The army failed to meet its two main objectives: crushing Hezbollah and bringing the two captured soldiers home. Both are believed to have been badly wounded, but Hezbollah has given no details on their conditions or proof they are alive. Secret negotiations for a prisoner swap have not yielded results.

U.N. Mideast envoy Michael Williams said Thursday the United Nations has held "many, many meetings" with Hezbollah representatives, but added there has been no word on the conditions of the soldiers.

"It causes me pain to report to you that those negotiations have not so far met with success," he told Israel Radio, calling on Hezbollah to give an indication on the conditions of the men.

Olmert has repeatedly called the war a success, noting the heavy damage inflicted on Hezbollah and the presence of a massive U.N. peacekeeping force policing Lebanon's southern border. However, Israelis remain unconvinced.

In April, a government commission looking into the war found a "severe failure" in Olmert's handling of the war, saying he hastily went to war without a comprehensive plan and exercised poor judgment.

Israel's wartime military chief and defense minister have already lost their jobs in the wake of heavy public criticism, and the final conclusions of the government commission, expected in the coming weeks, could put pressure on Olmert to resign.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Temmuz 2007, 19:26