Halutz slammed for promoting Lebanon war generals

Sources close to Peretz displeased Lebanon war commanders not penalized.

October 30, 2006 20:28
3 minute read.
hirsch, gal 298 idf

hirsch, gal 298 idf. (photo credit: IDF)


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Sources close to Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Tuesday criticized IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz's decision not to demote the senior commanders along the northern border. "Some of the appointments are not compatible with the conclusions of investigations by senior commanders in the reserves," the sources said, according to Army Radio. Meretz head Yossi Beilin also called on Peretz not to approve the appointments until after the investigations into the war have been completed. Meretz faction head Zehava Gal-On said Halutz's decision was the last nail in the coffin of the war and that the lesson was that no one who was involved in the decision-making process is taking responsibility, Israel Radio reported. Following the unsatisfactory outcome of the Lebanon war this summer, the IDF's general staff surprised military analysts on Monday with better-than-expected decisions regarding the fates of of the four division commanders that managed the fighting on the ground. For a Jerusalem Online video of events click here After five hours of deliberation, the panel headed by Halutz promoted Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsch to head the Strategic Command unit of the General Staff. Brigadier Generals Erez Zuckerman and Eyal Eizenberg will remain in their present commands as heads of the reserved armored and paratrooper divisions, respectively. Brig.-Gen. Guy Tzur, it was decided, will be transferred to command a major ground forces training base in the south of the country. However, a senior security official told The Jerusalem Post Monday night that the appointments were not a closed deal and that the defense minister must approve every appointment above the rank of colonel. According to the official, Peretz has discussed the appointments with Halutz and has also been personally involved in all the investigative committees. In a statement released by the IDF's Spokesman's office, the main considerations in the appointments were "operational command ability and management on the battlefield; stability among the forces; backing and confidence of the superior, especially those that took part in the war, and optimization between the needs of the defense establishment and the desire of the people." Following the divisional-level investigations into the management of the war being submitted to the panel last week, harsh criticism was leveled at each of the four brigadier generals - commanders Gal Hirsch of the Galilee Division, Guy Tzur of Division 162, Erez Zukerman of the reserves armored division, and Eyal Eizenberg, commander of an elite paratrooper reserve division. The generally positive outcome for the four division commanders was unexpected following allegations raised in investigations over poor management of ground forces in the war against Syrian and Iranian-backed Hizbullah. Military sources had previously said Halutz would likely avoid publicly dismissing commanders found to have mismanaged their men in the fighting - instead, he would block their promotions, effectively forcing them from the ranks. Halutz personally sat in on investigations at the divisional level in the last month, and reports from officials familiar with the closed-door panel discussion said harsh criticism had been directed at officers in the division commanded by Brig. -Gen. Eizenberg in particular. Military sources said that probe focused in particular on an incident in the village of Debel in southern Lebanon's central sector. Reports from reservists that fought in Debel claimed two companies were ordered to take up positions in vulnerable homes in daylight, when officers had been expressly warned to operate only under the cover of darkness. Over fifty soldiers were said to have been crammed into one structure, which was later targeted by two advanced ant-tank missiles fired by Hizbullah cells known to be operating in the area. Nine reservists from a demolition company were killed, and 31 more wounded. The IDF said the investigation into the incident at Debel was ongoing and that the results would be made public at its conclusion. Investigative teams also castigated commands and a poor performance in the tank regiment brigade for which Brig-Gen. Zuckerman was responsible, sources said. Allegations that Brig.-Gen. Guy Tzur was too conservative by not aggressively pursuing engagements with Hizbullah were less damaging, officials familiar with the investigations said. Tzur's Division 162 fought in the central sector near the villages of Markaba and Tibbiya. In the last days of the war, armored soldiers in the brigade suffered considerable casualties when they were ambushed by Hizbullah squads that fired on their APC's with anti-tank missiles in the battle of Wadi Saluki. Brig.-Gen. Aimad Fares was tapped as Hirsch's replacement in the Galilee Division, and Brig.-Gen. Noam Tivon was appointed to head the Judea and Samarian Division. Brig.-Gen Aviv Kochavi was named the new head of the Operational Division. Appointments to the regular army infantry brigades for Givati, Golani, and the Paratrooper Corps will be addressed next week, military sources said.

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