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Blow to Olmert as Israel's armed forces chief quits

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Blow to Olmert as Israel's armed forces chief quits


The Israeli government of Ehud Olmert has been dealt a further blow. The head of the Israeli army, the chief of staff Dan Halutz, has resigned over internal inquiries into Israeli setbacks in the war in Lebanon last year. The departure of the lieutenant-general comes a day after a criminal investigation was opened into Prime Minister Olmert’s role in the privatisation of a bank.

Many Israelis say they welcome the resignation. “I think it’s a good decision, even if it came a bit late,” said one man in the street. “As you know, the Israeli public opinion is that we didn’t win this war. So, he had to go”. But military analyst Efraim Inbar says Halutz is not the only one who’s unpopular.

“The chief of staff basically has lost the confidence of the Israeli population, as well as of his own subordinates. And we know that the Defence minister is also very low (sic) appreciated even in his own party and in the rest of the political system”. A report by a retired Israeli general recently criticised military commanders for poor organisation during the war against Hizbollah, but stopped short of calling for Halutz’s sacking. Two other top generals had already resigned.

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