August 27th, 2006
HUNDREDS of feet below ground in the command bunker of the Israeli air force in Tel Aviv, a crowd of officers gathered to monitor the first day of the war against Hezbollah. It was July 12 and air force jets were about to attack Hezbollah’s military nerve centre in southern Beirut.
Among the officers smoking tensely as they waited for news, was Lieutenant-General Dan Halutz, 58, a daring fighter pilot in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war who had become chief of staff a year earlier and now faced the biggest test of his career.
Over the Mediterranean, west of Beirut, the elite F-15I squadron made its final preparations to strike with precision guided weapons against Hezbollah’s Iranian-made long-range Zelzal rockets, aimed at Tel Aviv.
Just before midnight, the order “Fire!” — given by the squadron leader — could be heard in the Tel Aviv bunker. Within moments the first Hezbollah missile and launcher were blown up. Thirty-nine tense minutes later the squadron leader’s voice was heard again: “Fifty-four launchers have been destroyed. Returning to base.”
Halutz smiled with relief and called Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, who was enjoying a cigar as he waited by a secure red phone at his residence in Jerusalem.
“All the long-range rockets have been destroyed,” Halutz announced proudly. After a short pause, he added four words that have since haunted him: “We’ve won the war.” (….Full Article)