Jerusalem – An Israeli chief of staff has never before resigned, of his own free will, in light of an operational failure during war
So what led to the unprecedented resignation of Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz?
One need look no further than the testimonies of ill-equipped Israeli soldiers who were dispatched by Gen. Halutz to the front lines last summer, as reflected in an open letter published Aug. 19 in the Jerusalem Post by one father, Lenny Ben David:
” Five of my sons and sons-in-law fought in this war … Their short-term and long-term orders were confused and ever-changing. The emergency stocks for their reserve units were in horrible condition. One reservist special forces unit lacked basic communications equipment, they were provided guns that they had never trained on, and their rushed training was done in conditions unlike anything they would see in Lebanon … One son missed his death by a few seconds and yards. Instead he had to evacuate dozens of dead and wounded under fire. The evacuation force never came, and the survivors had to carry the dead, wounded and themselves miles back to the Israeli lines … Over the course of the war soldiers were held back for weeks when they were ready to charge. When they were finally dispatched, they were given unachievable missions in impossible time constraints. Soldiers were sent on daytime missions that should have been carried out only under the cover of darkness. Some died as a result.”
Halutz wrote that he was motivated to resign principally by his sense of “responsibility,” a recurring motif in the letter. Halutz explained that he felt that he could resign his post now that the various inquiries into the IDF’s performance in the second Lebanon War had been completed and the army had been given the tools to remedy the flaws that were now exposed.
After hearing from witnesses who appeared at the Winograd Investigation Commission that is now conducting an investigation of the summer 2006 conflict in Lebanon, Halutz apparently realized that he had no choice but to turn in his uniform and, in this manner, lower the flames. These same witnesses told him, in the last few days, that the committee members are focusing their questions largely on his conduct. It was also no secret to Halutz hat the committee had been shown the inquiries conducted at the IDF’s initiative, in which there was harsh criticism of the IDF General Staff that he heads. In addition, a few days ago, former Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Shomron, who also headed the inquiry that led to unflattering conclusions about the performance of the IDF General Staff, appeared at the Winograd Commission.
David Einhorn, a bereaved parent, and a leader of the public protest after the fighting in Lebanon, called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz to follow the example of Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz and resign.
Einhorn told the media that he did not feel joy about the resignation of the chief of staff. However, he believed that Halutz resigned too late. He noted that the chief of staff is not the only one responsible for the failure in the war, and besides the prime minister and the defense minister, senior officers at the level of the IDF General Staff and below are also responsible for it.
The Israel Organization of Bereaved Families from the Lebanese War, added their voice: “There is no doubt that the battle for someone to take responsibility is beginning to reap results; 158 dead are a sufficiently good reason for the chief of staff, the defense minister and the prime minister to resign. We call on the prime minister also to resign of his own accord and to give the bereaved parents and all of the people of Israel the right to recover from the blows that his deeds have inflicted upon us.”
Another aspect of Halutz’s failure is that Israel’s achievements in the second Lebanon War, beginning with the critical blow against Hezbollah capabilities, and up to the stationing of UNIFIL in Lebanon from the south to the Litani river, are expected to collapse. That is a a result of the especially aggressive and efficient policies of the Iranians, which have escaped the watchful eye of Israeli military intelligence, since Iran has been allowed to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the rehabilitation of Lebanon, in an attempt to win over the hearts of the public and strengthen Hezbollah. That assessment, composed by a governmental security body, details the present situation in Lebanon and attempts to forecast the future of the country in the coming months. An Israeli diplomatic source revealed Wednesday: “The intelligence assessment indicates that during the five months since the end of the war, Tehran has succeeded in being perceived as the savior of the Lebanese while distributing tens of millions of dollars throughout the country, and promises of hundreds of millions more, designated for renovation and rehabilitation of all aspects of post-war life.”
©The Bulletin 2007