Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot took over as the 21st IDF chief of staff at a ceremony in Jerusalem on Monday.
Eisenkot replaced Lt.-Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz, who completed a four-year term at the helm of the military and 38 years of service.
During his inauguration speech, Eisenkot said he was taking on his role as military chief of staff “with a big sense of responsibility.
“We are in the midst of a tense time rife with challenges,” he said. “The Middle East is changing its face and is becoming unrecognizable. It is characterized by explosiveness and instability. The challenges of the time force us to be more determined, sophisticated, and act with sound judgment, more than ever.
“Only a strong, ready, and determined military will fulfill its role – to deter the enemy, push back war, defend, and win,” Eisenkot said.
Gantz said during his address, “Our neighborhood has not gotten simpler for any military in the area, including the best military of them all. We changed in the face of these regional permutations, and we changed in the face of internal permutations at home.”
Gantz added that he expects external and internal upheavals to continue.
“Some of the combat was not reported on in the news editions and won’t be told for many years. The thin line between national responsibility and operational courage was crossed by our forces countless times, and with greater vigor in recent years,” he said.
Israel continues to face bitter enemies “who share a fence with us, and sometimes not.
We can deal with them at any time, with constant advances,” Gantz said. “In the hour that we will have to turn our eyes to farther challenges, it is important to remember, at the same time, to extend our hands to allies, to create fields of interests that promote solutions, which can ensure that our nation does not dwell alone.”
Eisenkot joined the IDF in 1978, serving in the Golani Brigade, where he eventually became the commander of his squad, platoon, and the Orev anti-tank missile company.
He became the battalion commander and the deputy brigade commander.
Eisenkot also served as operations officer, before becoming commander of the Bahad 1 officers training base. In 1992, he became commander of a reserves infantry brigade, and in 1994 took charge of the Efraim regional division. In 1997, he became commander of the Golani infantry brigade, and in 1999, Eisenkot became military secretary to thenprime minister Ariel Sharon and defense minister Ehud Barak.
In 2001, Eisenkot was appointed commander of the Pillar of Fire Armored Formation in the Northern Command, preparing it for the period that followed Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon.
Eisenkot headed a committee to improve cooperation between the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). In 2003, he became commander of the Judea and Samaria Division during the height of the war against Palestinian suicide bombers, who terrorized Israeli cities.
In 2006, he commanded the General Staff’s Operations Branch during the Second Lebanon War, before becoming OC Northern Command until 2011. In 2012 he oversaw the formation of the Depth Command, which handles operations in distant battle arenas, and in 2013 he became deputy chief of staff.
In a directive issued to the IDF’s soldiers and officers on Monday, Eisenkot wrote, “The strategic situation around [us] is changing constantly. We do not know what the future will bring, and we are preparing for every scenario.
“The challenges we face obligate us to take a sober view of reality, engage in honest self-criticism, and carry out organizational and personal development for ongoing learning. We could be required to take difficult decisions, both operationally and organizationally.”