Report: Halutz rejected 2002 US offer to buy 'bunker-buster' bombs

'We could have ended the war earlier,' senior officer says.

IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz turned down a US offer in 2002 to sell Israel specially-designed "bunker-buster" bombs capable of penetrating deep underground enemy defenses, Time magazine reported in its August 12 issue. Halutz, who at the time was Israel's air force chief, rejected the Pentagon's offer, the news magazine said, and claimed that Israel had its own "superb weapons." The magazine quoted an unnamed intelligence source in Tel Aviv who claimed that Israel could have possibly brought the war with Hizbullah to an earlier close had it accepted the US offer back in 2002. "If we'd had the bunker-busters in the first few days," the senior intelligence officer told Time, "we'd be in an entirely different situation today against Hizbullah." Hizbullah, according to Military Intelligence, has close to 100 bunkers throughout southern Lebanon where it hides its Katyusha rocket launchers. Israel has failed to destroy the bunkers as well as other underground complexes in Beirut's Dahiya neighborhood, a known Hizbullah stronghold believed to be home to the guerrilla group's main nerve center. Last month, The New York Times reported that the Bush administration had approved a shipment to Israel of precision-guided munitions, which included at least 25 of the 5,000-pound bunker-buster bombs. The IDF refused to comment on the report by press time.