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Halutz: I never said it would be a knockout

Former IDF chief Dan Halutz rejects accusations government played to IDF's tune during 2006 war.

Halutz speaks 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Halutz speaks 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
"The hardest moment during the [Second Lebanon War] was when I realized we weren't providing the goods," former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz said in an interview published Friday. Speaking to Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonot, Halutz said "the phrase 'missed opportunity' reflects also what I feel." Current Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said late last year that the war was not an Israeli defeat but also not a success. He then used the phrase 'missed opportunity' to describe it. "Using land troops in the last hours [of the war] was correct, but I did not expect us not to succeed in stopping rocket fire on the home front," Halutz said. He said he did not regret resigning because it "expressed what I believe: I needed to bear responsibility." Regarding Prime Minister Ehud olmert, Halutz said he should not resign. "He took decisions in an appropriate manner...working side by side with him was a privilege." The final Winograd report, he said, "described things as they were," and he found nothing in it he did not know about from the military's own probe into the war. Halutz, a former Israeli Air Force chief, has been criticized as relying on the air force too heavily and of lacking basic understanding of land troops' modus operandi. In the interview he rejected accusations claiming he thought the campaign could be won with the air force alone "even though I am still very proud of it. On the contrary, I said this is not going to be a knock-out." Asked whether it would have been better to wait before embarking on the final land incursion (which cost the lives of 33 soldiers, more than a quarter of the war's total casualties), Halutz said "the government is the one to decide...saying I 'led ministers by the nose' is really shallow. Who [did I lead]? The four defense ministers sitting there? Fuad [Binyamin Ben Eliezer], [Shimon] Peres, [Shaul] Mofaz and [then acting defense minister Amir] Peretz?"