At a ceremony in Tel Aviv, Gadi Eizenkot, second from left, succeeds Benny Gantz, far right, as IDF chief of staff. (photo from Flash90 from JNS.org)
The four-year term of Israel Defence Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz officially ended earlier this week, with Gantz handing command of the military over to his deputy, Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, during a ceremony at Rabin Base in Tel Aviv on Feb. 16.
While serving as Gantz’s deputy, Eizenkot was part of major decisions on military reforms. He assumes command of the IDF during a time marked by tension in all sectors: the potential for further escalations in Gaza, concern over the growing unrest among Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, the volatile situation on Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon, and the erosion of Israel’s deterrence against Hezbollah.
Eizenkot acknowledged that he is taking over “in the midst of a tense and challenging period.” He said, “The Middle East is changing and it has become very volatile. Under my command, the IDF will prioritize its readiness, its operational skills and its ethical fortitude, so we may wield whatever force necessary in the defence of the Israeli public. I pledge to lead the Israel Defence Forces with determination and wisdom, and with the utmost commitment to Israel’s security and the public’s safety.”
Gantz said that during his time as IDF chief, “we have fortified our borders, we have adapted our response in all sectors and we have ensured our readiness to any scenario. We have taken forceful action when necessary, and our readiness has proven itself time and again,” he said. “It is important that we look at the challenges in the horizon, and it is equally important that we know how to reach out to our allies, to create spheres in which we can promote our interests and solutions.”
Gantz told Eizenkot, “The IDF is yours to lead now. Make your mark on it with the love we know you have for this military and the responsibility required of the position. The public is lucky to have you as the leader of its defence forces.”
At a defence establishment farewell event for Gantz, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said the outgoing military leader was “everyone’s chief of staff, in true service of the public.”
“You have shown the utmost, unbiased dedication,” Rivlin told Gantz. “Over the past four years, you have led the IDF toward many achievements. You have bolstered the public’s faith in the military. You may be taking off your uniform, but I believe it will not be for long. We have called on you once, and maybe we will call on you again before too long. The people need you.”
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, “If I had to describe Benny in two words, they would be ‘warrior’ and ‘humane.’ I have seen you deal with so many challenging situations, and what always came through was your humanity. I believe that behind the tough warrior exterior there’s more than just a sensitive soul – I think it is the soul of a poet.”
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