Kochavi takes reins as chief of IDF

The official ceremony took place in Tel Aviv before he heads to Jerusalem.

Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi takes the reigns as the 22nd IDF chief of staff, January 15, 2019 (GPO)
Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi officially became the IDF’s 22nd chief of staff on Tuesday, taking over from Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gadi Eisenkot at a ceremony at the IDF’s Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.
“I look at this position with reverence, I see it as an honor,” Kochavi said after he received his new ranks, which were placed on his shoulders by his wife and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“‘I swear.’ This is what I called out alongside my fellow soldiers in front of the Western Wall, which was for us a wall of support and protection,” Kochavi said at the ceremony. “It has been 2,000 years, and this wall of protection has expanded and become the Israel Defense Forces. I swore in front of generations of soldiers and became another link in the chain of generations that each come in turn to defend the state.”
“‘I swear,’ every soldier calls out, and packs into these two words the relinquishing of the individual for the national. The national home is a wonderful creation like no other in the history of nations, but it is planted in a region that for religious and national reasons is trying to reject its natural roots. To defend our national home, we need a sobered outlook, a fit military force, the willingness to use that force, discretion and determination,” he continued. “Like every soldier in the presence of the oath, I, too, undertook this – to devote all my efforts to the defense of the homeland. Now, as Chief of the General Staff, with national security and the good of the state before me, I swear again.”
Thanking Eisenkot for his work under which, he said that the IDF bolstered its troops and increased its preparedness, Kochavi pledged “to dedicate all my energies, in a critical and stern manner, to strengthening our defensive wall and adapting it to the challenges of the present and the future, with the aim of increasing our ability to harm the enemy.”
Prior to the ceremony, Eisenkot issued his final command as chief of staff along with a statement expressing his appreciation for having served as Israel’s top military officer.
“Hold your heads up high and accept my deepest appreciation for the honor of being a defender of our land,” Eisenkot wrote. “As a soldier and as an officer for decades – and from today, like every other civilian in Israel who places their faith in you – I rely on you to secure our future. Preserve the spirit and strength of the Israel Defense Forces.”
At the ceremony, Eisenkot, who is departing the army after 40 years of service, said that one of his first goals as chief of staff was to build a “competent, ready and powerful army that strengthens its power with wisdom and determination.”
“In the past four years, the IDF has scored remarkable achievements, carried out thousands of powerful and precise strikes – and has positioned itself in the eyes of its enemies as a prepared, sophisticated and creative army,” he said, adding that the security of the state depends on “long and significant operations, both overt and covert,” the results of which “are evident across the borders and across the Middle East.”
“Only those who witnessed the intensity that was used [in operations] every night, compared to the quiet that the citizens of Israel woke up to every morning, can attest to the readiness of the IDF for war and the IDF’s deterrent power,” Eisenkot said. “We chose to deal with the powerful enemy. Every day, our force is successfully tested against preventing the Iranian entrenchment in Syria and stopping the arming of Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
Turning to Kochavi, the outgoing chief of staff said he had been privileged to work with him both in the field and in the general staff, recognizing him “as a commander with the strengths and abilities of leadership and command, who can and will be able to withstand the most complex challenges.”
Eisenkot said: “The command over the military is passed on today to you, Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, a commander worthy like no other to stand at the head of the Israel Defense Forces.”
Also speaking at the ceremony, Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, thanked Eisenkot for his four decades of service.
“Over the past four years, we have dealt with great challenges: the changing fronts in Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and other places,” Netanyahu said. “But there has also been one main element facing us: Iran and its terrorist proxies. We acted responsibly and with discretion to stop those who seek to harm us from growing stronger.”
Former defense minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu), who resigned in November, congratulated Kochavi and spoke of his decision to appoint him as chief of staff.
“One of the most important decisions during my time as defense minister was to choose the chief of staff,” Liberman said. “I am certain that Major-General Aviv Kochavi, a venerable soldier and officer, will lead the IDF with determination and professionalism. Major General Kochavi was the right choice.”
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan thanked Eisenkot for his service and congratulated Kochavi on his new position.
“With the resignation of Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, this is the time to say thank you for his long service in the IDF,” he said, adding, “I extend my blessing for the success of the incoming chief of staff Aviv Kochavi. The incoming chief of staff will have a great deal of work.”
Following the ceremony in Tel Aviv, Kochavi headed to Jerusalem to pay his respects at the National Hall of Remembrance at the Mount Herzl military cemetery before visiting the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.
He then met with President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, before returning to Tel Aviv.