(photo credit: Courtesy)
In the middle of Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip last year, OC Southern
Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant was asked why the IDF was not pushing deeper into
Gaza to fight Hamas.
With his trademark calm look and soft voice, Galant
said that if he wanted to, he could send military forces into downtown Gaza
City, have them set up a military tribunal and try top Hamas
“All I need to do is get the order,” he said at the
This confidence is one of the main reasons Galant was chosen to
succeed Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi as the IDF’s next chief of General
Galant has never made a secret of his opinions, often voicing them
at General Staff meetings even when he knew it was a lost cause. In contrast to
Ashkenazi, whose term has been marked by caution in his dealings with the
political echelon, Galant is assumed to be more decisive when making decisions
regarding the use of Israel’s offensive capabilities.
the coming year is expected to be a year of decisions regarding Iran and its
nuclear program, Defense Minister Ehud Barak felt that he needed someone who
would be able to make the decision to use the IDF if the government were to
decide to give the green light for such an operation.
This is not to say
that Ashkenazi would not, but without the enthusiastic support of a chief of
staff or defense minister it is much more difficult for a government to approve
such an operation. The first person who needs to believe in the operation is the
commander of the Air Force. Once he is convinced it is possible, he needs to
persuade the chief of staff, and then together they go to convince the prime
Galant spent a large portion of his career in the field. He
enlisted into the Israeli equivalent of the Navy Seals – called the Shayetet –
in the 1970s and climbed the ranks until he was appointed commander of the unit.
In this sense, he is like Barak, who was also a commando although with the
General Staff Reconnaissance Unit, also known as Sayeret Matkal.
contrast to the other candidates for the top post, Galant did not spend any time
in a position on the General Staff that would have exposed him to the major
logistics and staff work included in running the military.
entire career has been out in the field, except for his term as the prime
minister’s military secretary. While this has been held against him, Barak views
this as a positive characteristic.