Halutz Resignation Marks Latest Casualty of Lebanon War

Halutz Resignation Marks Latest Casualty of Lebanon War

Last week's resignation of Maj. Gen. Daniel Halutz, the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Force (IDF), could precipitate the long-expected change in Israel's military and political leadership as a result of the country's perceived poor performance during last summer's conflict in Lebanon. There had been numerous calls within Israel for Halutz's departure ever since the military failed to achieve its two major objectives in the war -- securing the release of the two IDF soldiers abducted by Hezbollah guerrillas and destroying that group's military infrastructure in Lebanon.

The massive scale of the fighting that ensued quickly overshadowed the July 12 border kidnapping incident. Despite intense bombing by Israeli warplanes, Hezbollah units managed to launch thousands of rockets into northern Israel, forcing almost a million Israelis to take shelter in local bomb shelters or relocate away from the war zone. The conflict ended one month later when the UN Security Council adopted a ceasefire resolution. Hezbollah remains a major force in Lebanese politics and media reports indicate its military wing has begun replenishing its supply of rockets and other munitions.

The immediate cause of Halutz's departure was the submission of a scathing report to the Knesset Military and Foreign Defense Committee on the General Staff's performance during the Lebanon campaign. Among other failures, the report, written by former IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen Daniel Shomron, faulted Halutz for not ensuring that the IDF implemented his commands. Other critics complain Halutz, the first air force general to become IDF chief of staff, placed too much confidence in the effects of air power. In their view, this misjudgment led the IDF to postpone sending large numbers of Israeli ground troops into the region. Army troops proved necessary to detect and attack Hezbollah fighters, who had blunted the air attacks through clever concealment tactics and by co-locating with sensitive civilian targets (e.g., mosques and apartment buildings).

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