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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.

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