(AFP) – Jan 7, 2008
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that Lebanon's Shiite Muslim Hezbollah is stronger than ever, army radio reported.
"Hezbollah is stronger than ever and has more rockets than at the outbreak of the Lebanon war in the summer of 2006", the station reported Barak as telling a closed-door meeting of military officials in Tel Aviv.
He reportedly said the government made a mistake in the 2006 conflict in not applying the principle that Israel initiates hostilities only when it has no choice and that it must win as quickly as possible.
Barak, a former prime minister and current leader of the Labour party, was not in the cabinet during the 34-day conflict in July and August 2006 that was sparked by Hezbollah seizing two Israeli soldiers on the Lebanon border.
The Israeli government commission investigating state and military conduct during the war said on Sunday it will release its final report on January 30.
In an interim report last year the Winograd Commission released findings that roasted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, former defence minister Amir Peretz and former chief of staff Dan Halutz over the war.
An official closely involved in the commission's work told AFP on Sunday that "the report will be as harsh as the previous one," referring to the interim findings.
The conflict between Israel and the Shiite militia killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
During the war Hezbollah fired some 4,000 rockets from Lebanon into northern Israel, forcing a million Israelis into bomb shelters or to flee to safety farther south.
On December 31 a report by an Israeli parliamentary committee placed responsibility for failures of the war on the military.
The military leadership "ignored basic principles of Israeli strategy, which aims to bring the battle to enemy terrain and to protect the civilian population," Tzahi Hanegbi, the chairman of the foreign affairs and defence committee, was quoted by local media as saying in presenting the report.
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