Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz
His wife, Irit Halutz
Photo: Tal Cohen
Lt. Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz took an unbelievable step during his IDF service. He was the first Air Force commander who managed to break through the glass ceiling and to become chief of staff.
However, after the second war in Lebanon, no one will remember Halutz for this historic achievement. Same goes for the successful execution to the disengagement plan. He will be listed under the annals of history under a different chapter: The war in which millions of Israelis sat in shelters, and that was perceived by the Israeli public as a failure.
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Halutz, married with three children, has a B.A. in economics from Tel Aviv University. He was the first IDF chief of staff who had served as a pilot, and the first who had previously been an Air Force commander, except for Haim Laskov, who served in both positions, but wasn't a pilot.
His appointment to chief of staff in February 2005 aroused harsh opposition amongst left-wing people and organizations because Halutz said that he "slept well at night" in an interview after the targeted killing of Salah Shahade, even though innocent people were killed during the attack.
Halutz also added in an interview with Ha'aretz: "If you want, despite this, to know how I feel when I release a bomb, then I'll tell you – I feel a slight hit in the plane as a result of the bomb being released. A second later it's all over, and that's it. That's what I feel."
Moving up the ranks
Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz was born in 1948 in Tel Aviv. During his military service, he filled a number of roles in the Air Force, and in general. In 1966, he started his military service as a cadet in pilots' course, and finished as a fighter pilot in 1968. After he completed an operational training course, he joined the first F-4 Phantom squadron in the Israel Air Force.
In 1968, Halutz fought in the War of Attrition during which he completed 40 operational sorties. In 1973, he was released from the IDF, and started his academic degree. However, with the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, he returned to the Phantom squadron, and went on 43 operational missions. During the war, he shot down three enemy planes.
In 1978, he again was released from the military, and he served as a reserve pilot for 4 years. Afterwards, he returned to serve in the Air Force, and trained to be an F16 pilot. By 1984, he was commanding a Phantom squadron. Two years later, he was appointed head of the Israel Air Force Lavi jet project.
In 1991, he was appointed to command the Hatzor airbase. In 1993, he was promoted to brigadier general and was appointed head of an air group. In 1995, he was appointed head of Air Force Staff. In 1998 he was promoted to major general and was appointed to the General Staff. A year later, after a structural change in the general staff, Halutz was appointed as head of the first Operations Wing in the IDF General Staff.
In 2000, he was appointed Air Force commander, and in July 2004 was appointed as deputy chief of staff.
After this, he was appointed the first chief of staff who had pilots' wings. In August 2005, Halutz executed the disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip, without any casualties. However, the praise didn't last long. After the war in Lebanon, a broad movement of reservists was established that called for the resignation of the political and military leaders. Tuesday night, Halutz gave way to the pressure, and tendered his resignation.