Following the conclusion of several months of probes into the summer's Lebanon war, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz announced his resignation late Tuesday night. Senior officers estimated that Halutz's decision was made after he received inside information that he would take the fall in the results to be published in February by the government-appointed Winograd Commission. The officers pointed to his remarks made two weeks ago that he planned to remain in the IDF, and said that his decision to resign indicated that "something extreme changed his mind."
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Full text of Halutz's letter of resignation
Halutz began to send messages that something was in the works earlier this week after he cancelled his appearance at the prestigious Herzliya Conference set to begin next Sunday, and after he did not accompany Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during his tour of the West Bank Tuesday afternoon.
Chiefs of Staff have always appeared at the Herzliya Conference, and have always accompanied prime ministers during their tours of military installations.
According to a source close to Halutz, Tuesday night's decision for Halutz to resign was planned "from the beginning."
"He wanting to investigate the IDF to the best of his ability," the source close to the chief of staff said. "After he completed that task, and after creating the work plan, he decided it was time to step aside and pave the way for another officer to lead the IDF into the future."
The IDF spokesperson released a statement of Halutz's decision after midnight on Tuesday night. Since the completion of the war in Lebanon in August, Halutz came under an onslaught of criticism from fellow commanders and politicians calling for his resignation and blaming him for the disappointing results of Israel's 33-day fight against Hizbullah.
Many of the IDF internal probes found that Halutz was personally responsible for the confusion and orders distributed during the war, and the IDF lack of preparation for embarking on the war this past summer.
Despite the immense pressure he was under, less than two weeks ago Halutz seemed to indicate that he planned to stick it out in the IDF.
"I did not hear my superiors tell me to go. When they ask me to, I will respond." Halutz told military reporters during a briefing in Tel Aviv. Halutz at the time referred to the Winograd Commission, and said that if the committee recommended that he leave, he would do so.
Halutz, 58, was in his previous job deputy chief of staff, and before that the Israeli Air Force commander. He was the 18th chief of staff, and the first to come from the Air Force.
Halutz's decision to resign opened the race for his succession, with the Ministry of Defense Director-General Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi the frontrunner.
Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinski will serve as Halutz's temporary replacement.