Halutz: Stock story wicked; MKs: Investigate
Army chief takes lot of heat Tuesday following publication saying he sold his stocks hours after kidnapping of soldiers in north, which kicked off war. On Tuesday afternoon he goes on defensive: 'I don't know who is behind this, and I don't intend to be dragged into issue which will tarnish my integrity.' But some Knesset members call on attorney general to launch investigation
Halutz's next war. IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Dan Halutz referred Tuesday for the first time to the publication of the sale of his shares on the day two soldiers were kidnapped on the northern border and war broke out.
"This is a wicked and distorted publication. I don't know who is behind this and I don't intend to get dragged into an issue that will tarnish my integrity," said the army chief.
Chief of Staff Halutz on Tuesday (Photo: Ofer Amram)
Halutz knows that the criticism hurled at him in the past few hours does not only stem from the fact that he may have sold stocks after learning war was about to break out, but also because he chose to do so while dealing with the difficult incidents along the northern border.
He explained: "I am a citizen of the state and I have my own personal economic considerations. This issue can only cast a baseless stain on me, and anything beyond this is not worthy of attention."
Halutz confirmed the facts published as correct but said, "The music accompanying the publication is deceitful and distorted."
On Tuesday morning the Knesset responded harshly to the publications of the stock sales. National Religious Party Chairman, MK Zevulun Orlev, petitioned the Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to investigate the issue.
"There is an expectation that in the hour of decision, the chief of staff will dedicate all of his capabilities to conduct the war and not to manage his personal accounts for revenue and loss in the stock exchange," said Orlev. "In as much as the military battle is not over, it is of prime importance that the chief of staff be free from any shadow of suspicion or crime."
Chairperson of the Knesset's House Committee, MK Ruhama Avraham, said in response to Chief of Staff Dan Halutz's stock sales: "This scandal is very strange. I call the chief of staff to provide a detailed explanation to the public beyond the laconic explanation he has given thus far."
MK Colette Avital (Labor) broadened the claims and called Halutz to resign from his position. According to her,"There is a serious problem here in his priorities when the security of Israel hangs in the balance. There is a Romanian saying that goes 'the country is burning and the grandma is combing her hair.' The country burned and all that interested him was his investment portfolio."
'It looks kosher, but it stinks'
Senior officers in the IDF who heard about the scandal Tuesday morning were amazed. Most of them preferred not to respond to the claims, but one officer noted that the issue reflects badly on the chief of staff and all IDF soldiers. "The chief of staff is not a private figure, and each action he takes, even away from the public eye, has significance for the entire country. I don’t want to criticize, but the feeling really isn't good."
Market capital analysts and brokers were also asked to respond to the publications, and referred to the possibility that Chief of Staff Halutz used inside information in order to determine his stock market behavior.
"It looks kosher, but it stinks," said a number of experts in the field to Ynet. "The problem is that in a small country there are many people exposed to defense estimates, from soldiers in intelligence to police officers, who sometimes know about terrorist attack warning more than the average citizen, and so there is a problem determining who can deal with financial securities and who can't."
"One can even be sanctimonious and say that a reserve soldier who received an emergency call-up before the action was publicized in the media, sold some shares – so this is a case of using inside information. The boundaries are unclear, but since the chief of staff is especially senior, this whole issue creates a very uncomfortable feeling."