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After 32 years of military service, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh bid farewell to the IDF on Sunday and was replaced by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's military secretary, Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni.
Shamni took up his new post at a festive ceremony at Central Command Headquarters in Jerusalem, in the presence of senior officers, including Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.
In his farewell speech, Naveh hinted at the harassment he and his family have undergone from far-right activists over 2005's evacuation of four northern Samaria settlements as part of disengagement and the violent evacuation of the illegal outpost at Amona in February 2006.
"We have all made mistakes," Naveh said. "But we shouldn't sin by expelling people - commanders and soldiers - from the nation because of their opinions."
Naveh said the IDF needed to continue striking at terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank to keep settlements as well as cities within the Green Line safe.
"Terrorism has not decreased because of an ideological change within the terrorist groups," he said. "Terrorism has dropped because of our operations, good intelligence and determined soldiers ... We need to continue fighting to ensure that Judea and Samaria do not turn into Hamas's main platform."
A new military secretary has yet to be appointed for Olmert, even though the Winograd Committee's interim report on the Second Lebanon War concluded that the position was key for assisting the prime minister in formulating military-diplomatic policy.
According to military sources, Ashkenazi and Olmert have been in contact concerning a number of candidates and are expected to appoint a new military secretary in the near future.
In the meantime, Shamni's deputy will take his place. The main candidates to replace Shamni are Defense Minister Amir Peretz's chief of staff Brig.-Gen. Mike Herzog and Deputy OC Ground Forces Command Maj.-Gen. Meir Klifi, as well as Brig.-Gen. Udi Dekel, head of the IDF's Strategic Planning Division.
Additional changes are expected within the General Staff in the coming months, with Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky expected to take a year off starting in September to study at Harvard University. He is expected to be replaced by Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel, currently the military attach in Washington and a former OC Southern Command.
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