IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Dan Halutz resigned last night in a notice to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Minister of Defense Amir Peretz.
There have been calls for the ouster of Halutz since the outbreak of the second Lebanon war on July 12, 2006, but he chose to stay at his post and investigate matters. Immediately after the cease-fire in August, Minister of National Infrastructures Benjamin Ben-Eliezer told “IDF Radio” (Galei Zahal) that he blamed the IDF leadership for the failures in the war. “I appreciate Dan Halutz. He was the best Air Force commander we’ve ever had, but I think he erred.”
The IDF spokesman said, “The Chief of Staff said that his command responsibility as the IDF chief of staff was the reason for his decision to stay in his post until the completion of the investigations and determination of a system for implementing the lessons in a work plan for 2007. When this process was completed, the Chief of Staff asked to terminate his position forthwith.”
At a conference two weeks ago, Halutz outlined the lessons of the war and the IDF’s work plan. He concluded by saying that the IDF had begun to pick up the pieces. “We must cease acting like cripples, and lead our people forward with our heads held high.”
The Winograd committee investigating the war is due to publish its findings shortly. Halutz apparently decided not to wait for the report to announce his resignation.
Yesterday, former chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Shomron, who is examining the IDF general staff’s actions during the recent war, briefed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on the bleak mood at the IDF general staff. “The war was waged without a goal,” he said. “The prime minister ordered the IDF to put an end to the firing of Katyushas against Israel, but the Army did not translate the order into a military goal.” He said, however, that Halutz was able to rehabilitate the IDF, belying recent allegations.
Immediately after the cease-fire, Halutz briefed the cabinet on the IDF’s achievements in the war, including the damage to Hizbullah’s infrastructure in southern Lebanon. But rising protests by IDF reservists and calls for the establishment of a commission of inquiry caused Halutz to announce that the IDF would fully investigate its actions during the war. “A full inquiry will be conducted on the reserve units, and there is a lot to investigate from the level of the chief of staff to the last soldier on the ground. We have nothing to hide.”
Halutz was hurt by a report in Hebrew daily “Ma’ariv” on August 15 that he had sold his stock portfolio immediately following the start of combat in Lebanon. The next day, an outcry arose for his resignation. Halutz sold his stock portfolio, worth NIS 120,000 and managed by Bank Leumi (TASE: LUMI) on the afternoon of July 12, when the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) fell 8.3% on news of the war. The bank launched an internal probe into the leak of confidential information about a customer.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on January 17, 2007
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