Herzi Halevi to replace Aviv Kohavi as next IDF chief of staff Monday

The government of former prime minister Yair Lapid approved Halevi’s appointment on October 23.

 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)

Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi is due to replace Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi as IDF chief of staff in a series of ceremonies on Monday, including at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.

The government of former prime minister Yair Lapid approved Halevi’s appointment on October 23. Kohavi has served in the post for the last four years.

Former defense minister Benny Gantz tapped Halevi as the 23rd chief of staff in September. The appointment was controversial because even though the selection process started before elections were called, the final appointment decision itself was made during the election campaign.

It is widely believed that had Benjamin Netanyahu been prime minister, he would have selected Maj.-Gen. Eyal Zamir, who came in second in Gantz’s process. Zamir was recently appointed director-general of the Defense Ministry by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who replaced Gantz.

There have been tensions in the past between IDF chiefs of staff and top Defense Ministry officials. Even though Halevi has impeccable credentials, the prior competition and tensions with Zamir are expected to lead to further tensions.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi at a graduation ceremony of naval officers at the Haifa naval base in March (credit: FLASH90)IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi at a graduation ceremony of naval officers at the Haifa naval base in March (credit: FLASH90)

Gantz believes Halevi would lead the IDF to the right place

Gantz wrote on Twitter at the time of the appointment that he was “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,” he wrote, adding that the “continuity of command is very important to the IDF in view of all the challenges” facing it.

Following Halevi’s confirmation, 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.

Besides the ceremony at the Kirya, Halevi and Kohavi are scheduled to have ceremonies with Netanyahu, with President Isaac Herzog at Mount Herzl and at the Western Wall.

Who is Halevi?

Halevi, 54, was drafted in 1985 into the Paratrooper’s Brigade and later served in the elite General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal), eventually commanding it in 2001. He replaced Zamir as deputy chief of staff after serving as OC Military Intelligence and OC Southern Command.

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

Halevi has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and business administration from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a master’s degree in national resource management from the National Defense College in the US.

Lahav Harkov and Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.