50 Influential Jews: Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi - No. 15

Will the IDF chief of staff keep the Israeli army from imploding from the inside?

 IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

When IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi took the helm of the military in January, he thought he had his hands full with finishing off the then-fading 10-month-long West Bank terrorism wave so that he could focus on more significant threats. These included Iran’s nuclear program, Hezbollah’s 150,000-rockets threat, Hamas’s multiple threats from Gaza, and the “war between the wars” campaign in Syria.

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He also knew that he would face some challenges to the IDF’s independence internally; these would be from Bezalel Smotrich, a minister within the Defense Ministry, who was given some powers over the IDF’s West Bank Civil Administration, as well as from National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has some powers relating to the border police which work with the military.

But Halevi had no idea that his biggest challenge would be to keep the IDF from imploding from the inside due to around 700 Air Force reservists and over 10,000 total reservists quitting or threatening to quit to protest the government’s judicial overhaul policy.

Also, he did not expect that in the fall of 2023, he would have over 25 battalions stuck in the West Bank (double the average peacetime number) in a seemingly endless series of terror waves.

Until now, the IDF has managed to continue its attacks on weapons smuggling into Syria. However, there are significant questions about its preparedness in a broader conflict with Iran, Hezbollah, or both.

Halevi has been credited for the operations in Gaza in May and Jenin in July. Still, his true legacy of succeeding or failing to maintain the IDF’s superior fighting capabilities is likely to be determined in the coming months.