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Israeli general resigns over war

January 17, 2007|From the Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Israeli army commander Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz has resigned, the Defense Ministry said early today.

Halutz had been under pressure to step down since the end of the 34-day war in Lebanon, which fell short of a decisive defeat of the militant group Hezbollah and failed to bring home two captured Israeli soldiers.

Israel launched a full-scale attack on Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas after they seized the two men and killed eight other soldiers in a cross-border raid July 12.

Army Radio reported that Halutz sent his letter of resignation to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, saying that he was taking responsibility for the outcome of the war.

"For me the concept of responsibility is everything," Halutz wrote, according to Army Radio.

None of the dozens of military inquiries on various aspects of the war concluded that he should step aside or be replaced.

The military spokesman's office said both Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz must accept the resignation before it can take effect.

There were no immediate comments from the offices of Olmert or Peretz, who also have been criticized for their conduct during the war.

The United Nations and Israeli and Lebanese officials said the fighting left more than 1,000 people dead on both sides. Lebanon's Higher Relief Council, a government group, says the majority of those killed were Lebanese civilians. UNICEF said that about a third of them were children.

The fatalities included 159 Israelis -- 39 of them civilians killed in rocket attacks.

Israel said that 600 Hezbollah fighters were killed, but that figure has not been substantiated. Hezbollah says that 250 of its fighters were killed.

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