I believe Halutz gave specific orders. I believe those orders were relayed. I also believe in the independence and free spirit that is as key to Israeli victories as it is to these tragic ‘mistakes.’
The adage of no battle plan surviving first contact with the enemy is late in the game when compared to Israeli battle plan tactical briefings. The division head meets with the brigade commanders and changes are made. The brigade commanders meet with their battalion commands and command staff and more changes are made. (Hopefully they are communication back upwards, but not always.) The batallion commanders brief the troops, then the company commanders have at them in smaller groups.
These last crew are key to changes in command. Despite orders, command structure and all the details involved, I know from first-hand experience what happens in the heat of battle. Don’t have enough HEAT shells to complete the barrage? Is the ammo truck late? Did an incoming rocket hit near our position? Did we miss our last target by just a few meters? Screw the orders and load those bomblets! The brigade commander will thank us later.
Sometimes that works. Clearly, in this case, it was tragic, wrong and criminal. Israeli military tactics are driven as much by local and temporal environmental conditions as they are by strategy and tactics. The war itself exemplifies just how we responded, incorrectly and incompletely, to the provocation. And left the field of battle with our troops still in enemy hands.
Olmert has to go. Halutz has to go. But their successors must drill down and ensure that moral and ethical decisions, and not just those generated by the heat of the battle, are made all the way down to the level of the gunner, loader and track commander.
Every civilian killed or maimed in Lebanon from these cluster bombs is a civilian with a legitimate and legal gripe with Israel. Whether or not the questionably competent leaders at the top knew of their use.