Defense Minister Benny Gantz, whose Blue and White Party was expected to be wiped out, ended up with seven or eight seats according to initial exit polls.
It is a far cry from the 33 seats his combined Blue and White and Yesh Atid Party received in the last election.
He is the politician for whom the results reflected the steepest fall from grace. Expectations had been set so low that the upward surge is seen as a victory.
It was thought that Gantz no longer had any political clout.
He has already said that he would not joint a Netanyahu-led government as he did after the last election, and so he is now counted in the anti-Netanyahu bloc headed by Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.
Gantz began his day at the Western Wall, where he uttered a prayer for the people of Israel.
“Bring peace upon us, and make peace within us,” Gantz prayed.
“I will continue on this path to walk toward the light, but with you and thanks to you [the Israeli public], no matter what,” Gantz tweeted.
Upon receiving the initial results of the election, Gantz tweeted: “I was a warrior, and I will continue to be a warrior on behalf of Israeli society. Starting tomorrow, I will do everything to unite the bloc for change. And if, God forbid, we are to go to the fifth election, I will stand [strong] like a wall to preserve democracy, the rule of law and security,” Gantz said.
He added that the welfare of Israel was “first and foremost” for him.