Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon..
(photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI / DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached an official agreement on Saturday to appoint deputy chief of staff, Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, as the 21st IDF chief of staff.
Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan, who until recently was head of the IDF’s Northern Command, was appointed deputy of chief of staff, Ya’alon’s office also announced.
“Maj.-Gen. Eisenkot has been chosen from an excellent group of major generals to lead the IDF in the face of the complex security challenges facing the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “On behalf of the citizens of Israel, I wish him success.”
Eisenkot, 54, will assume the office in February when the current chief of staff, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, completes his four-year term. The cabinet must approve Eisenkot’s appointment before it becomes official, though he is unlikely to face much opposition.
Ya’alon has briefed Gantz, Eisenkot and Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh – who also was being considered for the position – about the decision.
Eisenkot rose through the ranks of the Golani Brigade and took part in complex counterterrorism raids in Lebanon in the mid-1980s. In 1991, he became the Northern Command’s operations officer, and the following year, he took command of the Carmeli reserves division. In 1997, he was appointed commander of the Golani infantry brigade.
He commanded the Bashan Armored Division, the Judea and Samaria Division, the IDF’s Operations Branch and the Northern Command.
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In 1999, he became the military secretary of prime minister Ehud Barak, and in 2005, became head of the Operations Branch in the IDF’s General Staff, a role he filled during the Second Lebanon War.
Ya’alon held a series of meetings in recent weeks with Netanyahu during the final selection process. The prime minister, in turn, met with the leading contenders before the final decision was made.
The defense minister also held consultations with Gantz and former senior defense chiefs and received confirmation from the attorney-general that there were no legal obstacles to appointing any of the candidates.
“The choice was between excellent candidates, [both] suitable and experienced,” Ya’alon said Saturday night.
“I believe Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot is the appropriate man at this time to lead the IDF in the coming years. I have known Eisenkot for many years, and he brings with him professionalism, high command and leadership capabilities, a lot of wisdom, responsibility and good judgment.
“Eisenkot has a lot of combat and command experience, and he has passed through significant points during his military service, both as a fighter and commander in the field and in central headquarters roles,” the defense minister continued.
“Throughout his whole path, Eisenkot has exhibited honesty, integrity, a high moral standard and the ability to stand behind his opinions and values.
“In the coming years, the State of Israel and the IDF will face the most complex security challenges in all sectors, along the borders, within them and far from them,” Ya’alon added.
“Eisenkot is the most suitable officer to pick up the baton from Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and to lead the IDF in facing these challenges.”
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.
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