Israel's Yoav Gallant taps Eyal Zamir as Defense Ministry D-G

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eyal Zamir was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pick for IDF chief of staff, though the role went to Herzi Halevi.

Deputy Chief of Staff- Major General Eyal Zamir speaks at a graduating ceremony for new Israel Navy Officers in Haifa Naval Base, Northern Israel on September 4, 2019. (photo credit: FLASH90)
Deputy Chief of Staff- Major General Eyal Zamir speaks at a graduating ceremony for new Israel Navy Officers in Haifa Naval Base, Northern Israel on September 4, 2019.
(photo credit: FLASH90)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday night appointed Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eyal Zamir as his Defense Ministry Director-General, replacing the outgoing top professional level official, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amir Eshel.

The appointment could cause significant tension in the top echelons of the defense establishment as Zamir would have been Benjamin Netanyahu's pick for IDF chief, had he been prime minister during the selection process.

As things played out, Benny Gantz was still defense minister and Yair Lapid prime minister at the time, and they selected Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi for the top IDF spot. This was a controversial move because the appointment was only completed in the middle of election season, though it had started before.

However, in some areas, the Defense Ministry director-general has authority over the IDF chief, such as regarding certain purchasing and budgetary issues.

This could put Halevi and Zamir, both celebrated major generals and former IDF deputy chiefs, in direct conflict.

Major General Herzi Halevi, Commanding Officer of the IDF Southern Command speaks during the conference of the Israeli Television News Company in Jerusalem on March 7, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)Major General Herzi Halevi, Commanding Officer of the IDF Southern Command speaks during the conference of the Israeli Television News Company in Jerusalem on March 7, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Will two celebrated IDF generals be pushed into direct conflict with each other?

Controversially, Zamir publicly called for targeted killings of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commanders in a position paper this past summer.

Many such targeted killings have been attributed to Israel, but Jerusalem is always careful to avoid taking responsibility.

Zamir is viewed as being in the vein of Gallant and Netanyahu's aggressive mentality regarding Iran.