The new chief of Israel’s military took office. Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi formally took charge of the Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday at a ceremony conducted by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Ashkenazi, a former infantry commander and Defense Ministry director-general, said in his inaugural speech that he saw his main challenge as “implementing the lessons of the Lebanon war.”Ashkenazi was referring to Israel’s setbacks in overrunning Hezbollah border strongholds and rocket emplacements during the 34-day war last summer, which prompted calls for the armed forces to be overhauled. Ashkenazi’s predecessor, Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, stepped down amid public perceptions that he mishandled the war. “Responsibility is not the same as blame,” Halutz said in a parting speech.
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