When They Stopped Pushing, He Jumped

Instead of burrowing under a camouflage jacket, Halutz chose to be a nudist. But instead of being applauded for exposing himself bravely to the public, he ended up being mocked for revealing all.

Brigadier General David Katz, formerly of the Golani Brigade and an aide to the chief of staff, was appointed in 1982 to investigate flaws in the function of the command post in the Lebanon war. His report was not flattering to the officer responsible for the command post's faulty operation - the deputy chief of staff, Major General Moshe Levy.

By the time the report was completed, however, Levy had been promoted to lieutenant general, and had become chief of staff. He thanked Katz warmly for his efforts and sent the tome, along with the rest of the war investigations, to the farthest, most hidden corner.

Dan Halutz chose to do it differently. Instead of burrowing under a camouflage jacket, he chose to be a nudist. But instead of being applauded for a brave public exposure, he ended up being mocked for revealing all.

In the series of in-depth inquiries he initiated to document his decisions and actions, Halutz turned himself into the Roman Zadorov of the 2006 war: Like the man accused of murdering a teenager last month in the Northern town of Katzrin, he himself provided both a confession and the reenactment.

Halutz was forced to spend all his energies on surviving. In his 59th year, burned out and spent, he was no longer able, perhaps no longer wanted, to dodge all the dangers, as he had done more than three decades ago as a young fighter pilot among the Migs and SA missiles.

But that belligerent, competitive component in his character, which makes him refuse to knuckle under in the face of external pressure, has not changed. Those who wanted him to resign should have stopped urging him to do so. Indeed, the moment they gave up and began to wait for the Winograd Commission report, Halutz surprised them with the announcement that now that he is not pushed, he's jumping.

He wrote and handed in his resignation letter, but deposited it with Ehud Olmert, without telling Amir Peretz.

The Winograd Commission is reportedly doing a very thorough job. Its investigators, who include reserve brigadier generals Shmuel Zucker (Northern Command) and Eran Dolev (medical evacuation), are preparing a lot of eye-opening material. The committee itself is also comprised of professors Yehezkel Dror and Ruth Gavison, reserve major generals Menachem Einan and Haim Nadel, as well as chairman Eliyahu Winograd. Gavison and Einan, who ask the witnesses difficult questions, are the midfielder and striker, and the defense is finding it impossible to deflect their shots.

"It is neither the chief of staff's job nor within his capability to go into minute tactical details," wrote Lieutenant General David Elazar, who was not an air force man, in protesting the Agranat Commission's report that recommended his dismissal, after the Yom Kippur War. Elazar added that when he was GOC Northern Command, in 1967, "I presented the chief of staff with general plans and did not receive detailed instructions - neither for defense nor offense."

Like Elazar, who sent his letter to prime minister Golda Meir, rather than to defense minister Moshe Dayan, his direct rival in the controversy over the Yom Kippur War, Halutz focused this week on Olmert, ignoring Peretz. Halutz's recommendation of his successor - probably his deputy Moshe Kaplinsky - will also carry considerable weight in Olmert's decision. Peretz will be a secondary player in this game.

Elazar rejected the Agranat Commission's conclusions, although he accepted its verdict and asked "to be relieved of my duties." Halutz decided not to argue with a report that has yet to be issued, and was making clear that the decision to go was his own, and his alone: "I intend to terminate my duty as chief of staff immediately."

Shin Bet head Carmi Gillon realized, after Yitzhak Rabin's murder, that if he didn't want the Shamgar Commission to dismiss him, he'd better resign without waiting for the commission's report. Halutz is acting in this format, among other things, because there is life after resignation. Also, he may as well begin the required cooling-off period now, in case early Knesset elections are held and he should wish to take part in them, and not as a member of the Pensioners' list.