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Israeli Reservists Fault Leadership on Lebanon

A growing number of Israeli reserve soldiers, frustrated at the way the war with Hezbollah was managed, are calling for senior political and military officials to resign. Some soldiers have launched a petition drive; others are protesting outside Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office.

Many soldiers say they lacked vital equipment and were misled by dithering leaders. Hundreds of reservists this week signed and published a petition in a local paper leveling those criticisms.

Israeli politicians ignore outspoken reserve soldiers at their own peril: In the 1973 Mideast War, Syrian and Egyptian forces initially stunned Israeli troops in a surprise attack on the holy day of Yom Kippur.

Momentum eventually swung Israel's way. But after the war angry reservists, voicing many of the same criticisms heard today, led protests that helped force then-Prime Minister Golda Meir to resign.

It appears the reservists' protests are already having an impact. Several members of the Israeli parliament now back a state probe much broader than the military review panel appointed by the defense minister.

But Prime Minister Olmert has downplayed the criticism. Touring a northern city hit hard by Hezbollah rockets, he pledged broad rebuilding efforts. Of the protests, he said, "I won't be part of this game of self flagellation." He continued, "We don't have a lot of time to talk about what happened; we have to talk about what will happen."

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Eric Westervelt is a San Francisco-based correspondent for NPR's National Desk. He has reported on major events for the network from wars and revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa to historic wildfires and terrorist attacks in the U.S.