Middle East News
Israeli navy commander resigns over Lebanon war
Jul 27, 2007, 5:35 GMT
Jerusalem - The Israeli navy commander, Admiral David Ben Ba'ashat, resigned late Thursday, the latest in a string of top officials to step down over last summer's inconclusive Lebanon war.
Ben Ba'ashat submitted his letter of resignation to Military Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who accepted it and thanked him for 37 years of service in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), Israeli media reported Friday.
The admiral had faced criticism mainly over a missile attack by Hezbollah on an Israeli vessel off the coast of Lebanon during the war with Hezbollah, in which four Israeli sailors were killed and dozens wounded.
It emerged the navy did not activate the on-board anti-missile system, because it did not believe the Lebanese Shiite militant movement had the sophisticated Iranian-made missiles to attack its ships.
The navy was also criticized for failing to investigate the incident in-depth.
Ba'ashat denied his resignation was a result of the Lebanon war, Israel Radio reported, pointing out his term was due to end regardless in another six months, but many nevertheless believed it was connected to the fighting.
Since the Israel-Hezbollah war, during which Israel failed to score a decisive victory, former Israeli military chief Dan Halutz and the former head of the military's Northern Command Udi Adam have resigned.
Former defence minister Amir Peretz also stepped down voluntarily last month, handing over his post to current Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who beat Peretz in May primaries of their coalition Labour Party.
An interim report published in late April by a government-appointed commission of inquiry had severely criticized the government and military's handling of the war.
It placed ultimate responsibility on Olmert, who, it said, as premier took 'hasty' decisions, failed to set clear and realistic goals for the Israeli offensive and also did not adequately consult with experts despite his lack of experience.
Some 1,200 Lebanese and 159 Israelis were killed in the 33 days of combat, which erupted after Hezbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers and killed three others in a July 12 cross-border raid.
The publication of the Winograd Commission of Inquiry's final report, due this autumn, is expected to cause further political instability.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur