Vowing to prepare the IDF for future challenges and his readiness for this
“important mission,” Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz received his rank on Monday and became
the army’s 20th chief of General Staff.
Following a day full of
ceremonies – at the Prime Minister’s Office, the Western Wall and the Kirya
military headquarters – Gantz convened his first meeting of the General Staff
and laid out his vision for the IDF as it prepares for challenges including
possible confrontations with Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran, and the ongoing changes
At his swearing-in ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office in
Jerusalem, Gantz admitted that his path to the top military post was not easy –
he was appointed after the cabinet canceled its earlier decision to appoint
Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant to the post – but that the IDF will know how to
“adapt and prepare itself for future challenges.”
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Gantz also reached out
to Galant, who skipped all of the ceremonies, thanking him for a long military
“Yoav and I have spoken, and I thank him for his service to the
country,” Gantz said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu thanked outgoing
chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi and warned of the
future challenges that await Gantz and the IDF.
“We are preparing for
every possibility, since we know in the end and particularly due to the upheaval
in the region, that our existence and getting our neighbors to realize the importance of peace
depends on the IDF,” Netanyahu said.
During a toast after the ceremonies,
Ashkenazi turned to Gantz. While stressing that there was no real way to prepare
for the post, he mentioned the Kassam rocket attack against the western Negev
earlier in the day.
“For that reason, I am handing you the book with the
list of targets in the Gaza Strip,” Ashkenazi said, while reaching for a small
Ashkenazi said that he carried the book with him at all times.
It includes lists of targets such as smuggling tunnels, Hamas positions and
weapons manufacturing plants that can be attacked at all times in response to
Palestinian terrorist or rocket attacks.
“Hold it tight and good luck,”
Ashkenazi told Gantz, to the laughter of the other members of the General
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Ashkenazi “profoundly
influenced the IDF’s confidence in itself and the people’s confidence in the
“I thank Gabi Ashkenazi for 40 years of service and especially for
the last four years,” Barak said.
Ashkenazi said that during his four
years as chief of General Staff, “we didn’t build the IDF, but we tried to renew
the people’s pride in the army.”
The outgoing chief of General Staff
discussed the importance of making sure the IDF continues to rely on the people
and prevent evasion of military service.
Gantz said that “with confidence
in my abilities, I accept command of the IDF. It’s an exciting day for me, the
IDF and the people of Israel.”