Israel went to war against Hezbollah last year as part of a
contingency plan, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was reported as saying. Ha’aretz on
Thursday quoted Olmert as telling a commission of inquiry
that after the Lebanese militia abducted two soldiers in a July 12 border
raid, Israel’s forces launched an offensive that he had approved months
earlier. The air, land and sea campaign in Lebanon was the “moderate” option
available to Israel under such circumstances, Olmert was quoted as telling
the Winograd Commission in his closed-door testimony in January. Olmert’s office declined comment.
According to Ha’aretz, Olmert was asked by the commission why he
ordered a bloody final ground sweep of southern Lebanon in the days before
an Aug. 14 cease-fire. Olmert was quoted as explaining that the move, which
cleared the way for a boosted U.N. peacekeeping force to deploy around former
Hezbollah strongholds, had been necessitated by the limitations of
Israel’s earlier ground campaign.