From flying high to a rocky landing

Dan Halutz was born in Tel Aviv on August 7, 1948 to an Iranian family. He holds a BA in economics from Tel Aviv University. He joined the Air Force in 1966 and graduated from combat flight school in 1968. During the War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt, from June 1968 to August 1970, Halutz carried out 40 operational flights. After the war he left the IDF in order to study at Tel Aviv University, but returned to active duty when the Yom Kippur War started in 1973. Four years later he again left the service and worked for a spell as a building contractor, but returned to uniform for good during the Lebanon War in 1982. In 1993 he was promoted to brigadier-general and in 1998 to major-general. He subsequently served as commander of the IAF from 2000 until 2004, when he was appointed to the position of deputy chief of General Staff. On June 1, 2005, Halutz was officially appointed as the 18th Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general. Following the 2005 pullout from Gaza, Halutz was quoted as saying: "We are leaving with our heads held high. The decision to leave Gaza was made out of strength, and with it comes a hope for a better future." During last summer's war, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel protested to Defense Minister Amir Peretz about statements they claim Halutz made during the targeted assassination of Sheikh Salah Shahada which killed an additional 16 Palestinians, mostly civilians. At the time, Halutz allegedly said, "If you want to know what I feel when I release a bomb, I feel a slight knock on the wing of the plane when the bomb is released. After a second it passes, and that's all." On August 15, 2006, it was revealed that Halutz sold off his investment portfolio three hours after two soldiers were captured by Hizbullah, the event that lead to the war. On August 17, Halutz rejected calls for his resignation over the affair, adding that the motives behind its publication were "wicked and tendentious. I do not know who is behind this. I do not intend to be dragged to such levels, questioning my integrity." At a news conference in Tel Aviv, Halutz said the stock sale was unrelated to the outbreak of war and criticized the disclosure of his personal financial information. Over the last few months, a number of public figures, including several Knesset members, have called for Halutz's resignation, prompting him to remark: "It is much easier to fight against an enemy than to deal with so-called colleagues who speak the same language as you while breathing down your neck." Halutz, who lives in north Tel Aviv, is married to Irit and is the father of two sons and a daughter, still pilots a jet or helicopter at least once a week. He is known to sing loudly in the cockpit.