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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

War? What War?

Voices calling for dismissal of Chief of Staff Dan Chalutz are not new, from left and from right.

The left do not like him because they think he's an insensitive brute. When asked by a journalist last year what it feels like when launching a missile into Gaza knowing civilians might get hurt (Chalutz is a pilot), he said: "all you feel is a slight bump in the wing and you go on".

The right do not like him because of his role in the disengagement process a year ago, when he commanded the IDF troops that evacuated Gaza's Jewish population.

This morning, the Israeli daily Ma'ariv published the following story: on July 12 at noon, Chalutz called his broker at the bank and asked him to sell his stock portfolio, worth about 120,000 NIS (about $27,000). This was only a few hours after the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah. The IDF and Hezbollah were trading fire, Israeli warplanes were bombing southern Lebanon in an attempt to block the kidnappers' escape route, Israeli tanks were in pursuit of the kidnappers inside Lebanon and the Israeli cabinet was debating whether to start a war or not.

Chalutz did not deny the story. He commented that his portfolio was a private affair that had nothing to do with the war, and that in any case on July 12 he still "did not think and did not foresee that there would be a war".

Chalutz should go home. Not because he thought about selling his portfolio at a time when the IDF was in hot pursuit of the kidnappers; it's bad, but not reason to fire him. However, the fact that the Chief of Staff says that at noon on July 12 he "did not think and did not foresee" that a war was a realistic possibility is absolutely unbelievable and unacceptable. This is a clear failure of the highest authority in the army.

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