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Old 08-16-2006, 01:19 PM
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Default "The country was under fire and all that was important to him was his stock portfolio," he said.

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"The country was under fire and all that was important to him was his stock portfolio," he said.


Israeli army chief sold stocks hours before war
Aug 15 9:11 PM US/Eastern
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Israel's army chief Dan Halutz reportedly offloaded his stock portfolio hours before the Jewish state unleashed a massive offensive in Lebanon and the stock market tumbled.

According to the Maariv daily, Halutz sold the shares at noon on July 12, three hours after two soldiers were seized by Hezbollah in a cross-border raid and as Israeli artillery began to pound the positions of the Shiite militia in Lebanon, the paper said.

Israel's main TA-25 index slumped by 8.3 percent over two days from July 12.

Halutz confirmed that he sold his shares for 120,000 shekels (26,000 dollars) and said he lost 5,400 dollars in the transaction.

"It's true that I sold these shares at noon on July 12, but you can't link the transaction to the war. At that moment I did not think that there would be a war," Maariv quoted Halutz as saying.

A UN-brokered ceasefire went into effect on Monday after one-month of war in Lebanon but Israel's political and military leaders are facing criticism over the conduct of the offensive and calls for an inquiry.

Israeli media have blasted Halutz for his handling of the war and the lack of preparation by the military for the offensive, with some reports saying that troops lacked basic equipment, like flak jackets, upon being sent in.

Following Tuesday's report, lawmakers called on Halutz to step down and for Prosecutor General Menahem Mazuz to open an investigation.

"This marks a serious problem of priorities during a time when state security was in the balance," Colette Aviattal, a Labor MP, said, calling for Halutz to step down.

"The country was under fire and all that was important to him was his stock portfolio," he said.

Zevulon Orlev, from the right-wing National Religious Party, echoed the sentiment.

"During critical hours for a nation, one expects the chief of staff to be totally involved in the running of the war and not in personal questions of winnings or losses on the stock market," he said.

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