The head of Israel’s Navy is the latest top official involved in the Second Lebanon War to tender his resignation.
Maj.-Gen. David Ben Bashat handed in his letter of resignation Thursday to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.
Ben Bashat served as head of the Navy for the past three years and in various other capacities in the IDF for the past 37.
Ben Bashat joins former Defense Minister Amir Peretz, former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, IDF Galilee Division Commander Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsch and Brig.-Gen. Erez Zuckerman, all of whom resigned in disgrace after being censured in probes of the management of the war.
The Navy chief had been called upon to resign since the end of the war, following several blunders, including the strike on the SS Hanit by an Iranian missile fired by Hizbullah. That attack killed four soldiers - St.-Sgt. Dov Shternshuss, Sgt. Shai Attias, Sgt. Yaniv Herskovitz and St.-Sgt. Tal Amgar - and wounded dozens. It was later reported that a missile shield that would have protected the ship was simply not turned on, since Naval Intelligence did not believe Hizbullah possessed such weaponry.
The commander of the IDF elite Naval Commando unit issued a harsh letter to Ben Bashat when he himself stepped down following the war. He accused Ben Bashat of failing to properly investigate the Hanit attack.
If not for his resignation, Maj.-Gen. Ben Bashat would serve as Navy commander until April, 2008. Candidates to replace Ben Bashat are Brig.-Gen. Yuval Zur and Brig.-Gen. Eli Marom – both former heads of Naval Central Command. According to the IDF, no date has been set for appointing a new commander, but it expected to be decided upon in the near future.