Israel's New Army Chief: Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot

Sunday, November 30, 2014 |  Israel Today Staff

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon on Saturday announced that Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot will become the Israeli army's new chief of staff when current army chief General Benny Gantz steps down on February 15.

Eisenkot has spent the past four years serving as Gantz's deputy. Despite having never served in an elite unit like most of his predecessors, and having never won any top commendations, Eisenkot was seen far and wide as the obvious and proper choice.

Eisenkot was praised by the Israeli press and by politicians from across the political spectrum as one of Israel's most level-headed officers.

The general has made surprisingly few enemies while climbing the army ladder, and set himself apart during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 as an officer who can keep his cool in a tense situation.

When Hezbollah killed eight Israeli soldiers necessitating a strong response, Eisenkot openly disagreed with then-IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Halutz's more aggressive and unprepared approach. Despite not seeing eye-to-eye, Eisenkot was able to remain on good terms with Halutz, which enabled him to continue to effectively execute his post.

Five years later, then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak wanted to name Eisenkot as the new IDF chief of staff, but the general turned down the appointment, noting that Gantz was a more senior officer and would be the right choice at that time.

Eisenkot is seen as a safe and stabilizing choice for army chief, as well as being a skilled strategist.

Eisenkot's appointment was also interesting given his disagreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yaalon over their approach to the Iran nuclear crisis. The general has on several occasions stated that Israel should not resort to military action unless and until Iran poses a clear and immediate existential threat to the Jewish state. Netanyahu has argued that by such a time, it could be too late to save Israel.

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