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The Winograd Commission said Israel failed to win the Second Lebanon War but justified the country’s major ground offensive in the war’s final hours.

An hour after presenting the report on the 2006 war with Hezbollah to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the commission released its findings at a news conference Wednesday.

The five-person panel, led by retired Judge Eliahu Winograd, faulted both the government and the Israel Defense Forces, saying their decision-making and performance during the war and in preceding years led to Israel’s failures.

It found that Israel went to war without proper deliberation about how best to respond to the July 12, 2006 border attack by Hezbollah, during which several Israeli soldiers were killed and two were taken captive.

Among the report’s recommendations was for Israel’s government and the IDF to overhaul their strategies for making decisions during emergency situations and wars.

Olmert’s office reportedly was relieved by the report’s conclusion backing the decision to launch a major ground offensive in the war’s last couple of days when it was clear a cease-fire was imminent. The panel called that move “essential,” even though the “last-minute ground offensive in Lebanon did not improve Israel’s position.”

Winograd said the war was a “great and grave missed opportunity,” and that the IDF failed to provide an adequate response for rocket fire on the country’s north.

Though the report blamed the military’s decision makers, it praised the performance and courage of Israel’s soldiers, singling out Israel’s Air Force pilots for special commendation.

Olmert, who came under heavy criticism by the commission’s interim report, which was published several months ago, had vowed to remain in office after the release of the final report.

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