General who opened mouth forced to retire: IDF Chief of Staff Lit.-Gen. Dan Halutz on Wednesday ordered a general be immediately dismissed from the standing army for openly criticizing the 2005 disengagement from Gaza and the war in Lebanon.
Halutz sought to meet with Maj.-Gen. Yiftah Ron-Tal over comments made in an interview with a religious magazine, but Ron-Tal ignored the IDF chief's request citing he is "busy studying."
Having attempted to reach Ron-Tal by phone, Halutz sent a letter to the Maj.-Gen. ordering him to attend a disciplinary hearing at 6 pm in the evening.
When Ron-Tal failed to show up, Halutz ordered he'd be discharged.
Ron-Tal was completing his studies before retiring from the IDF in two months, but Halutz's decision effectively sends the Maj.Gen. to retirement earlier than he had planned.
IDF sources said Ron-Tal sent a letter to Halutz in which he expressed his desire to end his military career after 33 year in the army.
The decision will deprive Ron-Tal of benefits enjoyed by career general, like a car and a generous salary.
"Although Ron-Tal was to retire in two months, the chief of staff's decision to end his pre-retirement break mars his career. He is ending his service unpleasantly … But he chose to do so," army officials said.
In the interview, Ron-Tal rules that "from a military point of view, this war ended in failure and the chief of staff must take responsibility. The IDF had plans for a wide-scale ground operation in southern Lebanon. One of the big questions which will have to be investigated and inquired is why the IDF did not operate in accordance with those plans and took a hesitant course of action."
Ron-Tal is convinced that "the only way to reach a completely clear picture is to establish a state commission of inquiry."
He believes that the chief of staff and all the senior officers, as well as the prime minister himself, must now draw personal conclusions.
Halutz said soldiers and officers are forbidden from making public political statements during service.
"IDF soldiers are clearly forbidden to discuss political issues and express their opinions on political and diplomatic issues, and more so they are forbidden from publicly criticizing the government of Israel," Halutz wrote in the letter he sent to Ron-Tal.