Halutz to Face Wrath of Reserve Officers

Senior officers in the reserves are planning to carry out an unprecedented attack on Chief of Staff Dan Halutz during a meeting scheduled for Tuesday to discuss the lessons of the war in Lebanon.

Criticism of Halutz and his management of the war is growing among reserve officers, including some with the rank of general.

However, officers whose names were made public during Channel 10 news last night, deny the report that they intend to call on Halutz to resign because of his failures.

"I did not hide my views regarding the conduct of the war," said Major General (res.) Uri Sagi, former head of Military Intelligence. "I think that there was a great gap in the expectations, between the aims and the ability to achieve them. It is obvious to me that the chief of staff is responsible to everything that takes place but I cannot dismiss anyone, nor do I decide who should be dismissed."

He added that "there is no organization of reservist generals. We are not a military junta."

"The ground is rumbling," said Major General Yoram Yair. "Senior commanders are telling me that they are very troubled and are trying to influence things. I have no expectations from the politicians. But the army needs to conduct itself by entirely different norms. It has an ethical code that obligates us all, from the chief of staff to the lowest soldier. I am not looking for the guilty but for responsibility. I do not understand how a division commander can take responsibility if the chief of staff does not."

Just like Sagi, he also reiterated: "I am not calling on the chief of staff to resign. What I have to tell him, I will tell him during our meeting. I am not a man who protests, I am a man of action. I am looking for ways to offer solutions. I have ideas that I think could be of help and I am glad that the chief of staff is meeting with us," he said.

Reservist Major Generals Yom-Tov Samia and Doron Almog, and Brigadier Giora Inbar, whose names were mentioned as supporting the dismissal of Halutz, refused to comment on the matter last night.

In another development, it has emerged that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has chastised Defense Minister Amir Peretz for not carrying out the necessary checks that would ensure that there were no conflicts of interest in the appointments to the committee of inquiry on behalf of the Defense Ministry.

The committee headed by former chief of staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak has not commenced its work after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that the government was setting up two other committees to investigate the conduct of the defense establishment and that of the political echelon during the Lebanon war.

The appointment of Lipkin-Shahak at the head of the committee to probe the conduct of the army and the defense establishment drew a great deal of flak because of his role as an external adviser to Peretz during the war.

The committee also includes Eli Horowitz, chairman of the pharmaceutical giant Teva, and retired Major Generals Ilan Biran and Ami Sagis. Retired Major General Herzl Bodinger was later replaced by Major General (res.) Giora Rom. It is not clear whether the committee will resume its activities.

Meanwhile, Peretz announced yesterday that he is seriously considering lending his support to the establishment of a public commission of inquiry into the Lebanon war.

"The matter needs to be weighed in relation to its benefit to the State of Israel," Peretz said. "I am willing to face any committee, whether this is a government committee of inquiry or a public commission of inquiry, which is a possibility that I am considering seriously."