An unexpected promotion to the top for the son of survivors

Benny Gantz won't be the first to become IDF chief of staff after having been skipped over once before.

February 6, 2011 01:29
3 minute read.
Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz

Benny Gantz. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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This wasn’t the way Maj.- Gen. Benny Gantz wanted to be appointed IDF chief of General Staff, but he will not be the first to get the post after having been skipped over once before.

Current chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi lost the race to Dan Halutz in 2005 – and was brought back to the post in 2007 after Halutz resigned in the wake of the criticism following the Second Lebanon War.

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Out of all the candidates who ran for chief of staff this time around, Gantz was the most experienced.

He was drafted into the IDF in 1977. At the age of 28 he was appointed a battalion commander, and at the relatively young age of 42, he received the desired rank of major-general.

Gantz was also commander of the Paratrooper’s Brigade, and commander of the Lebanon Liaison Unit, as well as of the Judea and Samaria Division during the height of the second intifada.

Since then, he has served as OC Northern Command and head of the IDF Ground Forces Command.

In July, 2009 he was brought back from Washington, DC – where he was serving as the IDF’s military attaché to the United States – to serve as the deputy chief of staff.

At the time, Defense Minister Ehud Barak wanted to appoint Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant – then head of the Southern Command – but Ashkenazi vetoed the move, preferring Gantz.

Gantz has received a number of university degrees during his military service.

In the IDF, he graduated from the Command and Staff College as well as from the National Defense College.

He earned an MA in National Resource Management from the US National Defense University, and an MA in political science from Haifa University.

The son of Holocaust survivors, Gantz has spoken often about the correlation between Nazi Germany and the current Islamic regime in Iran – whose nuclear program will be one of the main challenges he will face during his upcoming term as chief of staff.

During his tenure as deputy chief of staff, Gantz was involved in preparing the IDF for a possible confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program.

As a former head of the Northern Command, Gantz is also well-versed in Hizbullah and Syria, and he was instrumental in leading the rehabilitation of the IDF ground forces following the 2006 war.

One of the first steps Gantz will need to take is to stabilize the IDF, which has gone through a traumatic few months with the attempt by Barak to appoint Galant as the IDF’s 20th chief of General Staff.

Galant’s appointment was nixed last week by Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein.

Upon leaving office in November, Gantz did not hide his disappointment at losing the post.

“It is not a secret that I wanted to be the chief of staff, and it is no secret that someone else got the job,” he said. “I wish him the best of luck.”

Ashkenazi showed Gantz the so-called “Galant Document,” which police have determined was forged by former IDF officer Boaz Harpaz, before it was revealed in the press in August.

One of the lines in the document called for the launching of a “negative campaign” against Gantz.

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