Regardless of how many votes his Blue and White party will gain once all the votes have been counted, political newcomer Benny Gantz will enter Israel's parliament as part of the 21st Knesset.
The former IDF chief of staff was born in Kfar Ahim, a moshav in central Israel his parents helped found. His mother was a Holocaust survivor from Hungary, and as chief of staff in 2013, Gantz participated in the March of the Living where he toured the Auschwitz death camp.
His Romanian-born father was once arrested by the British authorities for trying to enter the Land of Israel during the pre-State British Mandate era.
Gantz is a veteran of the 1982 Lebanon War and participated in Operation Solomon the covert airlift that rescued Ethiopian Jews in 1991. A decorated soldier, he served at the Israel Defense Forces top general from 2011 to February 2015 during which he oversaw Operation Pillar of Defense and Operation Protective Edge, both against Hamas forces in Gaza.
The 59-year-old married father of four lives in Rosh HaAyin. He earned a history degree from Tel Aviv University, a Political Science masters degree from Haifa University and a National Resource Management master’s degree from the United States National Defense University.
After his discharge, following 38 years in the IDF, Gantz entered the business sector, being appointed chairman of Fifth Dimension, an Israeli security-technology startup in 2015. The company folded in 2018. He also was involved in real estate company Amot Investments and Elron Electronic Industries.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been in office for a consecutive 10 years, but his staying power was rivaled by the political newcomer. Regardless of how the government will be formed in the coming days, Gantz has proven to be a formidable player in Israel's political landscape.