IAF F15 fighter jet 300.
(photo credit: IDF Spokesman)
The race for the post of commander of the Israel Air Force will heat up this
week as Defense Minister Ehud Barak begins interviewing the three candidates
competing to replace Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan in April.
appointment of the next IAF commander has been embroiled in controversy in
recent weeks amid reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was pressuring
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz to tap his military adviser Maj.- Gen.
Yohanan Locker for the post.
The leading contenders for the post are
Locker and OC Planning Directorate Maj.- Gen. Amir Eshel.
Nimrod Shefer, the current deputy commander of the air force,
will also be interviewed for the post, but his chances are believed to be
In December, The Jerusalem Post reported that Barak and Netanyahu
were trying to influence Gantz’s decision on the identity of Nehushtan’s
successor, and it was possible the candidate’s opinions on the viability of a
strike against Iran was playing a role in the decision.
of a new air force chief traditionally makes headlines, but this time it is
particularly intriguing due to the possibility the next commander will be
ordered by the government to oversee a strike on Iran’s well-protected and
distant atomic infrastructure.
Eshel is believed to be the leading
candidate although Gantz is said to have yet ruled on the appointment, which
will need to be approved by Barak. He served as deputy commander of the IAF from
2006 to 2008 and is the current head of the IDF’s Planning Directorate.