IDF chief re­signs as crit­i­cism mounts

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - FROM JEFF BARAK, JERUSALEM

THERE WERE re­newed calls this week for both Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert and Defence Min­is­ter Amir Peretz to step down fol­low­ing the sur­prise res­ig­na­tion of IDF chief of staff Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Dan Ha­lutz.

Is­rael’s top sol­dier re­signed on Tues­day night fol­low­ing months of crit­i­cism of the IDF’s per­for­mance in last sum­mer’s war in Le­banon, dur­ing which the army failed to de­stroy the Hizbol­lah mili­tia or se­cure the re­lease of two sol­diers cap­tured by the Shia or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The res­ig­na­tion was un­ex­pected as Gen­eral Ha­lutz had pre­vi­ously in­sisted that he would re­main in charge of the IDF to over­see its re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

In a let­ter to Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert, Gen­eral Ha­lutz wrote: “For me the word ‘re­spon­si­bil­ity’ bears great mean­ing: it is ev­ery­thing, from A to Z. My sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity has led me to re­main in my po­si­tion up un­til now [un­til the in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the IDF’s per­for­mance in Le­banon were com­pleted], and it has led me to hand you this let­ter to­day.” Gen­eral Ha­lutz turned down a re­quest from Mr Olmert to with­draw his let­ter.

Knes­set mem­bers from across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum were quick to de­mand that both Mr Olmert and Mr Peretz fol­low Gen­eral Ha­lutz’s ex­am­ple and also re­sign.

“Ha­lutz’s step was un­avoid­able, but he was not the only one re­spon­si­ble for the fail­ures of the war — the gov­ern­ment was too,” Labour MK Ophir Pines-Paz told Army Ra­dio. Likud MK Gi­don Sa’ar said: “It doesn’t make sense for the chief of staff to carry all the blame, while his su­per­vi­sors at the po­lit­i­cal level — those re­spon­si­ble for the fail­ures of the war — es­cape the re­spon­si­bil­ity and con­tinue in their po­si­tions.”

The favourite can­di­date to re­place Gen­eral Ha­lutz is for­mer deputy chief of staff Gabi Ashke­nazi, who lost out to Gen­eral Ha­lutz in the bat­tle for the top spot in 2005 and is cur­rently the di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the Defence Min­istry. More im­por­tantly, Mr Ashke­nazi had no in­volve­ment in last sum­mer’s fight­ing and so is not tainted by the war’s fail­ure. Other can­di­dates in­clude the present deputy chief of staff, Ma­jor-Gen­eral Moshe Kaplin­sky, who served as Gen­eral Ha­lutz’s per­sonal rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the North­ern Com­mand dur­ing the war, and Ma­jor-Gen­eral Benny Gantz, the head of the IDF Ground Forces.

Gen­eral Ha­lutz, the first air force com­man­der to go on to head the IDF, was crit­i­cised for lack­ing a clear ob­jec­tive in last sum­mer’s fight­ing, re­ly­ing on the air force dur­ing the first few days of the war and for be­ing slow to call up the in­fantry re­serves. He suc­cess­fully led the disen­gage­ment from the Gaza Strip in the sum­mer of 2005.

For­mer chief of staff Dan Shom­ron, who con­ducted an ex­am­i­na­tion into Gen­eral Ha­lutz’s per­for­mance dur­ing the Le­banon war, said that the res­ig­na­tion would hin­der the IDF’s im­ple­men­ta­tion of the lessons learnt.

“The chief of staff has been cru­ci­fied over the past few months,” Mr Shom­ron told the Ynet web­site. “On a per­sonal level, he has the right to say: enough of this, why do I need to put up with all this crit­i­cism?”

Hizbol­lah’s television sta­tion, alMa­nar, claimed on Wed­nes­day that Gen­eral Ha­lutz’s res­ig­na­tion was proof that Hizbol­lah had de­feated the IDF last sum­mer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.