- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2007

JERUSALEM — Israeli army commander Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, under fire for failures in last summer’s war in Lebanon, has resigned, the Defense Ministry said early today.

Gen. Halutz has been under pressure to step down since the end of the 34-day war, which failed to defeat the anti-Israel militant group Hezbollah and force the return of two captured soldiers.

Israeli launched a full-scale attack on Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas after they seized the two men and killed three other soldiers in a cross-border raid July 12.

Army Radio reported that the general sent his letter of resignation to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and took responsibility for the outcome of the war.

“For me, the concept of responsibility is everything,” Gen. Halutz wrote, according to Army Radio.

Mr. Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz also have been criticized for decisions made before and during the war.

In its announcement of Gen. Halutz’s resignation, the military spokesman’s office said the general submitted his resignation because the dozens of military inquiries into the war had been completed.

None of the inquiries concluded that he should step aside or be replaced.

The spokesman’s office said both Mr. Olmert and Mr. Peretz have to accept the resignation before it can go into effect.

The offices of the two Israeli leaders did not release any comments.

The United Nations, Israeli and Lebanese officials said the war left more than 1,000 people dead on both sides. Lebanon’s Higher Relief Council, a government organization, said the majority of those killed were Lebanese civilians. UNICEF said about a third were children.

The fatalities included 159 in Israel, including 39 civilians killed in rocket attacks.

Israel said 600 Hezbollah fighters were killed, but that figure has not been substantiated. Hezbollah said 250 of its fighters were killed.

An inquiry by a former chief of staff found that the war’s goals were vaguely defined and that command centers performed faulty work.

Reserve generals have criticized Gen. Halutz, a former air force chief, for focusing too much on aerial bombardments and not enough on ground operations.

Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinski, who was dispatched to the Lebanon front to assume command during the war, told Israeli television last week that he would be a candidate for chief of staff after Gen. Halutz leaves. Gen. Kaplinski is serving as deputy chief of staff.

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