Dan Halutz's decision to resign as Israel Defense Forces chief of staff was received sympathetically by senior IDF officers Tuesday night. Some also issued sighs of relief.

The IDF, in order to rehabilitate itself, after one of the worst wars in its history, needs a new commander. The end of the IDF's internal investigations earlier this month marked an appropriate time for Halutz to leave, even if many thought that he should have resigned as soon as the war ended.

Halutz's assumption of responsibility, in his letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, is likely to hasten the rehabilitation process. Now, Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz will need to overcome their mutual loathing and decide quickly on Halutz's replacement. If a lengthy inheritance battle develops, that will only deepen the IDF's depression.

The leading candidates are expected to be Deputy Chief of Staff Moshe Kaplinsky - who is the natural heir, but was also involved in the failed Lebanon war - and Major General (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, today the director general of the Defense Ministry, whose return to the IDF would also cause some shock waves.

Halutz previously impressed his officers as a serious commander, well aware of the depth of his responsibility. That impression was eroded beyond recognition by his functioning during the war - and, no less, by his insistence on clinging to his post and conducting the investigations afterward. But by resigning now, he increases the pressure on his partners in the war's failed management, Olmert and Peretz, to follow suit.

Halutz's letter of resignation discusses his concept of responsibility, but lacks any explicit acknowledgment of the war's errors - the failure to call up the reserves, the delay in launching a ground operation, the poor communications.

Halutz also hinted that he was dissatisfied with the support he received from the government, warning that people will not gladly serve if they do not receive backing from those who send them. This phenomenon, he said, is no less dangerous to national security than the threats from some of our neighbors.

More on Halutz' resignation:

  • Dan Halutz resigns as chief of staff
  • Halutz' letter of resignation