Likud Knesset Member Yuval Steinitz, who also heads the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, testified Sunday before the Winograd Committee, which is investigating the political and military echelons’ conduct during the recent war in Lebanon.
Steinitz, who testified for nearly three hours, focused on what he referred to as the IDF’s mistaken notion that Israel was threatened only by rockets, ballistic missiles, unconventional weapons and terror, saying the military was ill-prepared for other types of threats.
During his testimony Steinitz was asked by the committee members why the army failed to develop technological projects to deal with with the rocket and missile threat, and on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s call to heighten the alert level along the Syrian border during the war.
During the hearing it was made known that as early as 2003 the committee members warned the IDF’s top brass that escalation along the northern border would require an immediate ground offensive and that aerial attacks would not bring an end the fighting. It was also revealed that the Knesset committee repeatedly stated that the Air Force alone could not defend against missiles and rockets and that ground forces would have to conquer south Lebanese territory.
Project largely funded by US Senate
Steinitz told the Winograd Committee that army officials responded to these warnings by saying that the Air Force has the capability to diminish the missile threats on its own.
During the Winograd hearings it was further revealed that the IDF increased its presence in the Golan Heights only two weeks after the war began despite the fact that Syria declared a high state of alert.
As to the technological defense projects, Steinitz criticized former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz for ordering the IDF to halt the development of a rocket-intercepting system, which was largely funded by the US Senate.
“The project was foolishly canceled, despite the fact that it could have provided a partial answer to the northern threat and a near conclusive solution to the threat on Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip,” Steinitz said.