New IDF deputy chief: Maj.-Gen.Dan Harel

Defense Minister Amir Peretz approved the appointment Friday of Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel as IDF Deputy Chief of Staff in place of Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky. In addition, Peretz approved Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi's decision to appoint Col. Avi Binayahu as the next IDF spokesman in place of Brig-Gen. Miri Regev. Harel, who is currently serving as the IDF's military attache in Washington, will return to Israel in the next few weeks to replace Kaplinsky, who is heading to Harvard University for a sabbatical. The IDF said that Kaplinsky plans to return to military service after completing his studies and he is rumored to be named the next Military Intelligence chief, a post from which he will run for next chief of staff after Ashkenazi completes his term in 2011. Harel, 52, has held a number of senior positions in the IDF, including head of the IDF Operations Directorate, Chief Artillery Officer, and OC Southern Command at the time of Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip in August 2005. Ashkenazi will decide on Harel's replacement in the coming weeks. Binayahu, 48, is the current head of Army Radio and was media advisor to former defense ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Yitzhak Mordechai. Upon his appointment, Binayahu will be promoted from colonel to the rank of brigadier-general. Friday's round of appointments follows last week's appointment of Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni as OC Central Command in place of Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh, who is expected to retire from military service. Ashkenazi has yet to appoint a military secretary for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a position left vacant by Ashkenazi.