Shlomo Lev Ami,
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Hundreds support protesting reservists
Reservists hold rally outside PM’s Office in Jerusalem, call on Olmert, Peretz to resign. ‘The feeling was that we as soldiers on the ground could have acted but had our hands tied behind our backs,’ protest organizer says; former Etzel member: Now is the new generation’s time – you should be a part of the next government
Hundreds of people arrived Wednesday at the protest tent set up by IDF reserve soldiers opposite the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem and signed a petition calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz.
Ronny Zvigenbaum, 27, one of the protest’s organizers, said “we are not demonstrating because we had no food (in Lebanon), but we noticed repeated failures: During our recruitment we waited for no apparent reason in an open area in Safed for 16 hours while Katyushas were landing; the equipment we received was insufficient, as was the training.”
'You abandoned the abducted soldiers; you abandoned the troops (Photo: Dudu Vaaknin)
“There was hesitancy all along; it felt as though the IDF brass was not utilizing the power they had in their hands,” he said. “There was no coordination between the different corps or a defined objective, nor were basic values such as human life and devotion to the mission upheld. The feeling was that we as soldiers on the ground could have acted but had our hands tied behind our backs. The top commander lost this war. Omert, Peretz and (IDF Chief of Staff Dan) Halutz must take responsibility, and we are the ones who must remind them of this.”
Yaakov Hasdai, who was a member of the Agranat Commission, which was appointed by the Israeli government to investigate the circumstances leading to the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, said at the rally “I support the call for the resignation of the top political echelon and the establishment of an inquiry commission as part of the demand for a culture of accountability in the political system.”
“I came here to tell the younger generation to rise up, protest and learn the lesson of the previous protest generation and call for a wide-scale plan to rehabilitate the country.”
However, Zvigenbaum and several others said they are not demanding an inquiry commission.
The reservists protest began with a march through Castel National Park near Jerusalem, and reservist Ofer Levin said this was not coincidental.
“This was the site of the first war-related fiasco in which Israel abandoned its injured and killed soldiers and did not send rescue teams and enforcements,” he said.
Shlomo Lev Ami, a former Etzel (The Irgun) member, said during the rally in Jerusalem ‘if we do not rise up and prepare an alternative for the rotten regime, then a new regime will be established that will be similar to the one you are toppling.
“Now is the new generation’s time – you should be a part of the next government,” he said.