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Siniora: Winograd should have mentioned Lebanon damage

Lebanon’s prime minister faulted Israel’s Winograd commission for failing to mention the damage to Lebanon caused by last summer’s war. The Winograd report “made no mention of the sheer damage inflicted,” Fouad Siniora wrote in an opinion article in Friday’s New York Times. “Lebanon’s airports, bridges and power plants were systematically ravaged. Villages were destroyed, and more than an eighth of its population displaced. The bombardment caused an estimated $7 billion in damage and economic losses while leaving behind 1.2 million cluster bomblets that continue to kill and maim innocent people. Most important, the war took the lives of more than 1,200 Lebanese citizens, the vast majority of them civilians.” The interim report last month faulted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and then-military chief of staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, for entering the war unprepared and pursuing it recklessly. Siniora referred only obliquely to the cause for the war: Hezbollah, a terrorist group that is part of the Lebanese government and which Lebanon has failed to disarm despite international agreements to do so, launched an unprovoked cross-border raid, capturing two Israeli soldiers and killing eight others. “So often we have seen parties to the conflict use force in the name of self-defense and security, only to further aggravate the situation and compromise the very security they seek,” he wrote. “These escalations also occur because there has never been full compliance with international law. Thus, illegal occupations, over-flights, detentions, house demolitions, humiliating checkpoints, attacks and counterattacks continue to heighten the anger and despair.” Siniora said the best hopes for peace lie in the Arab League initiative now under consideration by Israel, although he mentioned “the right of return of the Palestinian people,” a concept viewed in Israel as a recipe for national suicide.