Last update - 01:05 17/01/2007
Olmert expresses regret; senior officers welcome move
IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz announces his resignation
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service and Agencies
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Dan Halutz on Tuesday night announced his resignation as head of the military.
Senior IDF officers welcomed the resignation, saying it was "high time."
The deputy chief of staff, Moshe Kaplinsky, will act as the interim head of the armed forces.
Ehud Olmert's bureau said the prime minister knew ahead of time of Halutz' intention to resign, and asked him reconsider his decision. Olmert accepted the resignation, however, once he became convinced of Halutz' determination and expressed deep regret at the decision.
Two weeks ago, Halutz said he would resign if the Winograd committee implicated him as responsible for the mishandling of the second Lebanon war.
"If the committee hands down an unambiguous sentence, it would obligate me [to resign]," he said. The resignation, however, comes before the committee released its conclusions.
A military spokesman said early Wednesday that Halutz had told Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz that he was quitting "as the investigations have run their course."
Senior IDF officers testified before the committee that they considered Halutz as responsible for the failures of the war.
They told the committee that they believe the army failed to prepare its units as required and without clear goals.