Prisoners in Lebanon: The Truth about the Second Lebanon War is co-authored by Israeli military commentators Ofar Shelach (Maariv) and Yoav Limor (Israeli TV Channel 1). Translated into Arabic by Jawad Suleiman al-Ja’bari, the book is one of the most significant and comprehensive Israeli publications, which address the Israeli war on Lebanon in summer 2006. Highlighting the charged atmosphere behind the scenes, Shelach and Limor present a detailed narrative of the debate and dispute within the Israeli military and political establishments. The authors cast light on the performance of, and the relationship and interaction between, the political and military establishments in Israel. They make clear the causes of the command’s confusion and the problems associated with preparedness for war. Shelach and Limor investigate mechanisms of evading the responsibility and laying the blame for failure among the command staff in Israel. Shelach and Limor give a rare opportunity to look into the dark command headquarters, including the “well” at the headquarters of the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv as well as the command of the Northern Front. The account makes clear how underestimation of the enemy, and subsequently of the war, turned into a real impasse, unfolding significant surprises and crisis that culminated in a major failure.
Shelach and Limor examine the political war launched by the political level with the aim of legitimising the war and gaining more time on the international stage. Particularly in relation to Israel’s wars, the authors unveil the dynamics of interaction between the political and military levels with international and regional actors. In his foreword to the book, Antoine Shulhut, a staff member of MADAR, writes:
This books mainly focuses on the performance of, and relationship between, the political and military establishments during the war. Accordingly, it is rife with relevant minute details, which can present a rich material for researchers and analysts, albeit they hardly seem to draw attention of the broader public. Although they consider that failure in this war continues to be an isolated event, the authors cite many facts that hold the triad on top of the political and military establishments during the war responsible for the failure. That triad comprised Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Minister of Defence Amir Peretz, and Chief of Staff Dan Halutz. Some scholars criticise the book for failing to provide an accurate examination and to cast adequate light on the responsibility of former Israeli officials, who made up the previous triad. These are Ariel Sharon, Shaul Mofaz and Moshe Ya’alon. However, it can be argued that Shalach and Limor concentrate on another theme, which makes reference to this and the previous triad. Namely, conditions of the Israeli army have caused, among other things, “soldiers to forget the essence of war” in light of the operations the army launched in the Palestinian territory occupied since 2000.
According to Shulhut, the most important conclusion drawn by Shelach and Limor is that all branches of the Israeli government, and the State of Israel as a whole, were held prisoners during the war on Lebanon. On the other hand, the Israeli army was a captive of mostly amateur political leaders as well as military commanders who took more pleasure in “wars” than in thinking of the course of war itself and of its goals and consequences.