How did Hezbollah defeat Israel and forced the resignation of Ehud Olmert?
The deputy chief of staff, Moshe Kaplinsky, will act as the interim head of the armed forces.
Senior General Staff officers welcomed Halutz's decision, saying it was
necessary in view of what has come to light regarding the IDF's wartime functioning. "The time has really come," a general who played an active role in the war told Haaretz on Tuesday night.
"[Former GOC Northern Command] Udi Adam indicated the proper moral path with his decision [to resign]. Now Halutz joins him as well - and the inquiries show only the tip of the iceberg regarding Halutz's functioning during the war."
Halutz' decision to step down comes against a backdrop of failures in IDF functioning, his own performance and the performance of the army during the war against Hezbollah in July and August of last year.
Two weeks ago, Halutz said he would resign if the government-appointed Winograd committee of inquiry found him responsible for the mishandling of the war in Lebanon. The Winograd committee is also separately looking into the conduct of Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz.
Senior IDF officers testified before the Winograd committee that they considered Halutz responsible for the failures of the war. The officers told the members of the panel that the IDF had made a rushed recommendation to go to war, without preparing the units needed and without devising an exit strategy.
In his letter of resignation to the prime minister and defense minister, Halutz said the responsibility of command led him to the decision that he must remain in the army until internal military investigations had been completed, and the lessons learned from the war incorporated into the IDF's 2007 strategic plan.
In his letter to Olmert, Halutz wrote: "For me, the word responsibility has great meaning. My view of responsibility is what led me to remain in my post until this time and to place this letter on your desk today... Since the echoes of battle ceased, I decided to act responsibly according to the best traditions and values from home and from my service in the IDF."
Halutz said that after the conclusion of the inquiries "I feel proud that I completed what I set out to do. After these thorough processes, I am sure the IDF will be ready to meet the challenges ahead."
Halutz had since the end of the war resisted calls for his resignation, both from the public and within the army.
"I am not on 'A Star is Born,' and I am not being voted on by SMS. I have not heard those who appointed me call for me to go, when they tell me to do so, then I will respond."
In the near future Peretz will have to present the cabinet with a candidate to be the next chief of staff.
Kaplinsky is an obvious choice for the position, but also mentioned are Ground Forces Commander Benny Gantz, and reserve major-generals Gabi Ashkenazi (who is currently the Defense Ministry director-general), Shlomo Yanai and Ilan Biran.
Retired IDF general Dan Shomron recently submitted the findings of a probe he conducted into the war's execution.
The report, released in part last month, criticised IDF commanders for poor organization during the war, but stopped short of calling for Halutz's resignation.
Halutz, a former Israel Air Force chief, came under criticism for relying heavily on aerial barrages in the first part of the war, which caused extensive damage to Lebanon's infrastructure, while Hezbollah launched around 4,000 rockets into Israel.
Halutz was made chief of staff in June 2005, just before Israel launched its unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
The appointment raised eyebrows as it meant early retirement for the chief of staff at the time, Lieutenant-General Moshe Ya'alon, who had publicly warned that the Gaza plan would embolden Palestinian militants sworn to Israel's destruction.