Former Israel Air Force Commander Dan Halutz Appointed IDF Chief Of Staff

First Time Air Force Commander Becomes IDF Top Soldier

Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee Blasts Defense Minister Mofaz
For Ousting Current IDF Chief Of Staff

Broadcast February 22nd, 2005 on


Transcript of Report

Gen Dan Halutz

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has named former Israel Air force Commander Dan Halutz as the new Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. Halutz, who now serves as Deputy Chief of Staff, takes over from General Moshe Ya’alon, just days before the controversial evacuation of the Gaza Strip and 4 West Bank settlements. Meanwhile, in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, there was wall-to-wall criticism of the Defense Minister for not granting the customary extra year to General Ya’alon. While not explaining his decision, Mofaz said time would prove he had made the right decision.

David Essing reports:

For the first time in IDF history, a former Israel Air Force commander has been named the new Chief of Staff. General Dan Halutz, who now serves as Deputy Chief of Staff is to take over from General Moshe Ya’alon in July and his first test will likely be the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and 4 West Bank settlements. This is David Essing reporting:

IAF F-16i

Aged 56, General Halutz was a fighter pilot who shot down a number of enemy aircraft during his career. He is known as a brilliant and outspoken commander. His appointment is probably due not only to his outstanding leadership qualities but also recognition of the Israel Air force and its increased status in the IDF. Not even the vaunted Ezer Weizman, another fighter pilot who became Air Force commander and deputy Chief of Staff never made it to the top job, which until now always went to a general from the ground or paratroop forces.
Today the IAF, considered second to none, is also one of the biggest in the world. Halutz, known to be a favorite of Prime Minister Sharon, got himself into hot water when he said he ‘slept well at nights', after an Israeli air strike killed not only a top terrorist leader who had been sending suicide bombers, but also his wife and several children.
In response to a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court, General Halutz declared that he and his fellow pilots took care to prevent civilian casualties in the war against terrorism.

Gen Dan Halutz

One of his duties as deputy has been to prepare IDF plans for the disengagement. His promotion will trigger a whole series of new appointments on the IDF General Staff and comes amid a furor over the decision by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz not to grant the customary fourth year to current Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon. In the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Mofaz was hauled over the coals by both right and left wing MKs who said that General Ya’alon had done an excellent job in containing the Palestinian terrorism. Some MKs even said that Mofaz should himself resign because he had damaged the position of IDF Chief of Staff. Mofaz did not explain his reason, for what has been viewed as a cavalier manner, other than it was necessary to make the change so that he and the Chief of Staff could work together ‘harmoniously’.

The question remains; if Mofaz had trouble working with General Ya’alon who is considered to be a stolid disciplined officer who obeys orders to the letter, will the Defense Minister be able to get along with a flamboyant, charismatic fighter pilot?

David Essing, IsraCast, Jerusalem

Transcription done by Yael Yaffe-Last
Studio Production by Avi Yaffe Jerusalem Recording Studios LTD.

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