Gov’t approves Hertzi Halevi as next IDF chief of staff

Incoming IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi “joins a long and select chain of courageous and thoughtful commanders who knew how to bring the IDF forward,” Yair Lapid said.

 Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid (R) is seen shaking hands with incoming IDF Chief of Staff Hertzi Halevi, on October 23, 2022. (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid (R) is seen shaking hands with incoming IDF Chief of Staff Hertzi Halevi, on October 23, 2022.
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)

The government approved the appointment of Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi to the position of IDF chief of staff on Sunday.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz tapped Halevi as the 23rd chief of staff in September. Gantz met with Halevi following the confirmation, where they discussed various issues that he will need to contend with when he begins his role as the country’s top military officer.

On Saturday, Gantz wrote on Twitter that he is “convinced” Halevi would lead the IDF to the right place. Halevi “has a very broad strategic outlook and a deep and thorough knowledge of each of the IDF’s arenas of actions,” adding that the “continuity of command is very important to the IDF in view of all the challenges” facing it.

Following his confirmation, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi congratulated him and wished him success, saying he is a “brave, professional and talented officer.”

“Herzi is an excellent and experienced officer, and I am sure he will continue to lead the IDF forward, given the expected challenges,” he said.

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)

Who is the new IDF chief of staff?

The 54-year-old officer was drafted in 1985 into the Paratrooper’s Brigade and later served in the elite Sayeret Matkal reconnaissance unit before commanding it in 2001. He replaced the other candidate for the position of chief of staff, Maj.-Gen. Eyal Zamir, as deputy chief of staff, after serving as the head of Military Intelligence and Southern Command.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid welcomed Halevi’s appointment in Sunday’s cabinet meeting.

Halevi “joins a long and select chain of courageous and thoughtful commanders who knew how to bring the IDF forward,” Lapid said after his appointment was authorized last week.

“The central challenge has not changed: Our enemies do not want the State of Israel to exist, and we must be stronger, more sophisticated and more determined than they are, always and at any given moment.”

"The central challenge has not changed: Our enemies do not want the State of Israel to exist, and we must be stronger, more sophisticated and more determined than they are, always and at any given moment."

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid

Lapid highlighted the Iranian nuclear threat and the ongoing Operation Break the Wave to curb Palestinian terrorism.

“We have successes in all of these battles, but the battle never ends,” he stated. “We must not weaken our vigilance.”

In addition, Lapid said, it is of utmost importance for the IDF to stay moral and maintain democratic values.

Referring to recent incidents in which Israelis attacked soldiers in Judea and Samaria last week, Lapid said “whoever lifts a hand against an IDF soldier or commander will be punished to the full extent of the law. This violates our most basic values and their ability to defend the state. We have one army, the army of the people. We will not allow criminal militias in the State of Israel.”

President Isaac Herzog also welcomed the confirmation.

Halevi is “an excellent and highly accomplished officer and commander whom I have known and cherished for many years,” he said. “The IDF, the people’s army, is important and dear to all of us. Herzi, your success is the success of the State of Israel.’

Born in 1967 into an observant family in Jerusalem, he will be the first observant chief of staff despite no longer wearing a kippah. Halevi, who is married and a father of four, lives in the Kfar Haoranim settlement.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and business administration from the Hebrew University and a master’s degree in national resource management from the National Defense College in the US.