The new chief of staff of the Israeli army Dan Halutz, was sworn in Wednesday afternoon, succeeding outgoing Moshe Yaalon in a military ceremony in Jerusalem.

His first statement as chief of staff, Halutz said, the withdrawal from Gaza would be done with a mix of sensitivity and determination.

Halutz, is set to command the army’s role in the intended pullout from the Gaza Strip slated for mid august.

The new army chief said the army would seek to preserve the human rights of settlers and soldiers.

In his farewell speech, Yaalon expressed trust in his successor.

"I trust him and am sure his vast experience and quiet and relevant leadership he brings with him will allow him to prepare the IDF to face the challenges that lay before it," Yaalon told Halutz. "Danny, I wish you success."

Halutz, 57 served as air force chief for a number of years during which air strikes killed over one hundred Palestinians in extrajudicial targeted killings in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Appointing Halutz in this specific period of time broke a long standing tradition in the history of the Israeli army, by not extending Yaalon’s term by one year, previously considered automatic for chiefs of staff.

There was no explanation from the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s side on his decision to drop Yaalon. Analysts however speculated that Yaalon’s criticism of the air strikes which were the main tool for the assassinations.

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