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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2007, 15:41 GMT
Israeli chief succumbed to pressure
By Jo Floto
BBC News, Jerusalem

General Halutz
The resignation may not draw a line under discussion of recent military failures

Last August, just 10 days after the conflict had ended, Lt Gen Dan Halutz was already admitting that mistakes had been made.

There had been failures in combat, he said, "notably in the areas of logistics, operations and command".

There had been successes too, he added, but many in Israel were left wondering what had actually gone right.

After more than a month of fighting, Hezbollah was still able to fire rockets into the north of the country, and the two soldiers whose capture had sparked the conflict were still in captivity.

Gen Halutz, a former Air force chief, was accused of relying too heavily on aerial bombardment, and of botching the ground offensive.

Poor preparations

Soldiers, and particularly reservists, had complained of poor leadership, lack of equipment, poor training and a shortage of supplies.

Some told of spending days without food, forced to drink water from the canteens of dead Lebanese guerrillas.

In order to guide and lead we must live up to our responsibilities
Dan Halutz's resignation letter

Critics wondered why the army appeared not to have been prepared for a war on the northern border.

In September, General Udi Adam - the head of Israel's Northern Command - resigned. But his boss remained determined to stay on.

Gen Halutz maintained that Israel had delivered a huge blow to Hezbollah, killing hundreds of its fighters.

He even shrugged off a revelation that he had sold his share portfolio in July, the day senior politicians and commanders were deciding whether to go to war.

No 'running away'

Earlier this month he told a news conference that would he stay on ''to correct what can be corrected',' dismissing calls for his resignation saying it would be "running away".

Hezbollah rocket attack on Haifa
Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets despite Israel's offensive

"I have not heard my superiors calling on me to resign," he went on, "if they do I will respond."

We do not yet know if his superiors, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defence Minister Amir Peretz, made that call yesterday.

In his resignation letter addressed to Mr Olmert, Gen Halutz said he had decided to end his service after completing the process of investigating and drawing conclusions from the war.

"In order to guide and lead we must live up to our responsibilities," he wrote.

New focus

It may be that the general was merely anticipating the results of so many inquiries, military and parliamentary, currently underway into the prosecution of the war.

His resignation may also draw a line under the military failings of the summer, and allow the Israeli Defense Forces to rebuild their prestige.

But Israel's political leaders can expect no let up in the criticism directed at them. Gen Halutz's departure will focus attention on the decisions taken by the government.

Already, opposition politicians have renewed their calls for Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz to follow the general's lead.

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