New IDF chief,
Dan Halutz: advocate of
who “sleeps well at night”
The IDF recently announced that Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz will become its new chief of staff. I hadn’t given much thought to blogging about this development until I read the following anecdote in a JTNews article from Yonatan Shapira, the Israeli Blackhawk helicopter pilot refuser. He organized a group of fellow pilots to refuse to kill innocent Palestinian civilians. When Halutz, then air force commander, hauled Shapira onto the carpet demanding he retract his public letter, this is what ensued:
Shapira said it was during his interview and ensuing argument with Air Force Commander General Dan Halutz that he asked his superior what he would say to a missile attack on a targeted subject that took place on a major street in Tel Aviv, surrounded by Israeli civilians.
“The general then told me that there is a scale of blood-worth: Israelis at the top, Palestinians at the bottom. When he said that, it was clear to me that I had made the right decision.”
Unfortunately, Halutz’s previous service confirms that not only does he have innocent Palestinian blood on his hands, he apparently sleeps well at night regardless. Uri Avnery, perpetual Israeli peace activist and dissident says this about what was then (February 20th) the rumor that Halutz would become IDF chief:
If Ya’alon is succeeded by Halutz, it will confirm the pessimistic dictum that, for every bad man removed, there is an even worse one to succeed him.
Halutz aroused a public storm after the air force dropped a one-ton bomb on the house of a Hamas leader and killed him together with 15 civilians, including nine children. Asked what he feels when dropping such a bomb, he answered “a slight bump”, adding that he sleeps well afterwards. At the same [time], he vilified Gush Shalom for its actions against war crimes and demanded that we be put on trial for treason.)
Because of his bloodthirsty attitude there is no love lost between Halutz and dovish Knesset members:
Israel’s political left slammed the decision to appoint Halutz, mainly because as commander of the air force, Halutz oversaw one of the most controversial air strikes during the Al-Aqsa Intifada: in July 2002, the air force dropped a one-ton bomb on a Gaza neighborhood to assassinate a Hamas militant. The militant, Salah Shehadeh, was killed along with 16 others.
In an interview with Haaretz in August 2002 Halutz defended the use of such a powerful bomb to kill Shehadeh as “militarily and morally” correct, despite the civilian casualties.
Following the Tuesday’s announcement of the appointment, MK Yossi Sarid (Yahad) said “Ya’alon’s dismissal was originally meant to allow the appointment of Halutz the crony as next chief of staff.” (Halutz has a very close personal friendship with Ariel Sharon and his son, Omri)
Yahad co-member MK Zahava Gal-On said “it is inappropriate to have the IDF headed by a man who sleeps well at night after giving orders to drop a bomb on innocent women and children.”
Halutz, as air force chief angled for a larger role in extrajudicial assassinations of Palestinian militants. In a potential future flare up of hostilities, Halutz will not be a shrinking violet as Haaretz notes:
If the cease-fire is violated, how will the new chief of staff react? The impression given from his writings and operation analyses of the positions he has filled recently is that Halutz advocates massive and rapid reactions. He does not subscribe to the idea that, in a limited conflict, the injured party (Israel) should limit its reactions. Halutz was instrumental in bringing the air force into the center of the war on terror and the policy of assassinations.
And imagine the “love” which army commanders must have for a fellow soldier who made this disparaging comment about them: “Halutz comes from the air force and has no ground combat experience. Halutz rejects these claims [that he cannot be an effective IDF chief without ground combat experience], arguing that ‘you don’t need experience as a sheep to be appointed a shepherd.'” If I was an army commander I know how I’d feel about this arrogant jackass becoming my boss.