IDF chief Halutz: I never made use of soldiers' blood
Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said yesterday in response to criticism by his predecessor Moshe Ya'alon, "Never in my life have I made use of the blood of the fallen to put an issue on the agenda, personal or otherwise. I will never do that. Perhaps that is the difference."
Speaking in response to Ya'alon's statements in Haaretz Magazine that the decision to expand the ground war on August 11 was the result of "corrupt spin," Halutz argued that the offensive had impacted positively on the draft of Resolution 1701.
Halutz's remarks to military reporters in his Tel Aviv Bureau and later to Channel 1 were his first public comments about the war since it ended more than a month ago.
Halutz said he believed in his ability to continue leading the Israel Defense Forces. "To get up and resign would be running away from responsibility. I have decided to bear the burden and go on, because I believe in our ability to do what is necessary."
When asked whether he had thought about resigning, he answered "I would be lying if I said that things like that didn't pass through one's mind."
The IDF chief said the criticism he was getting was bothering him. "If it didn't, I wouldn't be human," he said, adding, "I don't know how this thing got stuck to me. I don't believe it's me.
"I will do my own soul-searching as every Jew does. I will not do it in public," Halutz also told the reporters.
Halutz conceded for the first time in relative detail that a number of mistakes had been made in the war. According to him, he would have drafted the reserve divisions earlier and trained them although he would not necessarily have fielded them any more quickly than he did.
Halutz denied telling the cabinet in the early days of the war that the air force could win the campaign alone. "On the contrary, as early as the first day we said that if this goes on for long, a ground campaign will be necessary."
Halutz said he thought that in the battle of Bint Jbail, in which eight soldiers were killed, enough forces had been fielded. He said the IDF had sent in two infantry brigades and units of an armored brigade and that entering the town had been a necessity. However, he hinted that operational mishaps had taken place. He also said IDF intelligence had updated information on Hezbollah strongholds in southern Lebanon, but it was "in sealed cases" and in some instances did not reach the front lines.
Halutz also said there may have been a chance for a cease-fire when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited the region on July 30, but it was lost after the death of the Lebanese civilians in the bombardment of Qana.