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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
"The IDF is in a worse crisis today than it was following the Yom Kippur War," Maj.-Gen. Eyal Ben-Reuven said Monday, in response to what he called the General Staff's failure to stand behind Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsch, the Galilee Division commander who resigned from active service on Sunday.
One of the last IDF generals still in service to have fought during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Ben-Reuven said that while Hirsch got off to a bad start in this summer's war with Hizbullah, his division, in the end, demonstrated impressive results.
During the war in Lebanon, Ben-Reuven served as the deputy to outgoing OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Udi Adam, who has also resigned from military service.
Hirsch, whose division conducted much of the fighting, handed in his resignation early Sunday morning, just hours before an investigative committee said the kidnapping of two reservists under his command should have been prevented.
Following the 1973 war, the government established the Agranat Commission to investigate circumstances leading to the outbreak of the war. While the committee recommended the dismissal of chief of General Staff David Elazar, his fellow officers, Ben-Reuven said, stood behind him.
"Today there is a crisis in the top IDF leadership," Ben-Reuven told The Jerusalem Post. "While the outcome of the Yom Kippur War was grave, at least then the top command stood by one another, and not like today when officers like Hirsch are left hanging out to dry alone."
While refusing to criticize specific officers, including Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, Ben-Reuven said: "The unsatisfactory results from the war were not due to the conduct of this or that division commander, but because of the top IDF command and the ranks on top of them."
Other former officers were not as restrained as Ben-Reuven, and on Monday called for Halutz's immediate resignation.
Former OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. (res.) Avigdor (Yanush) Ben-Gal accused him of arrogance and poor leadership.
"Halutz will come to his senses in time and understand that he can't put the army back together after the failure," he said.
But sources close to Halutz claimed Monday that he had no intention of resigning. Halutz, one officer said, had created a "master plan" for rehabilitating the IDF and fixing the flaws exposed during the war.
Alongside the close to 50 internal military probes, Halutz has appointed Brig.-Gen. Itai Brun, former deputy head of Military Intelligence's Research Division, to head a committee assigned the task of reformulating and writing IDF operation codes and methods in preparation of future conflicts.
"Halutz wants to be the man to rehabilitate the IDF and get it back on track," the officer said. "If it is up to him, he will not be leaving the IDF anytime soon."
Defense Minister Amir Peretz cautioned on Monday against a tendency, during military inquiries, to get swept up and harm officers who have "contributed their entire life to the IDF."
"It's unacceptable to throw mud at IDF officers," he said. "Gal Hirsch has one of the highest ethical codes of any officer I have ever met."
Peretz said he had met with Hirsch and asked him to put off his resignation until his successor was trained, and Hirsch had agreed.
Gil Hoffman contributed to the report.