New IDF Chief, Lauded for Humility, Perseverance, Charged With Tackling Major Challenges
Incoming Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff, Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot is a quiet, determined man, who has more than proven his mettle against Israel’s foes at every level in his military career, according to Israeli officials and outside observers.
Eizenkot will succeed Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz as the 21st chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on February 15th.
Eizenkot, Gantz’s second in command, began and ended his rise to the top warily watching and defending Israel’s norther frontier with Syria and Lebanon in the Golani Brigade, which he would eventually lead from 1997-1998.
After stints as military secretary to then prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak, Eisenkot headed the IDF’s Judea and Samaria Brigade, served as head of the army’s Operations Directorate, and continued on to the post of heading the Northern Command – again, with his finger on the pulse of activities in Lebanon by Hezbollah, and Syria’s President Bashar Assad, and the Damascus leader’s more recent own foes in ISIS, Jabat al-Nusra and a hodgepodge of other rebel forces trying to oust him, and threaten the Jewish State.
“Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and I consulted over the past week and decided to submit to the Cabinet the appointment of … Eisenkot as the next IDF Chief-of-Staff,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at Sunday’s weekly cabinet session.
“Gadi is an experienced officer. He has gone through all levels of command and he will shoulder a very great security mission as the IDF operates in various sectors, with growing challenges,” Netanyahu said. “He will be assisted by the next IDF Deputy Chief-of-Staff, Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan, who is also among our most experienced and talented officers.”
On Saturday, Ya’alon said that, “Throughout his service, Maj. Gen. Eizenkot has demonstrated integrity and ethics, and he has always stood by his principles and opinions.”
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, on his Facebook page, averred that “One incident is enough to show what kind of person our designated 21st Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot is.”
“During the selection process for the 20th Chief of Staff, when he was offered the position, he replied: ‘Thanks for the offer, but I did not yet serve as Deputy Chief of Staff,'” Bennett said, praising Eisenkot as “A modest commander with principles.”
Eisenkot’s mother, Esther, told the religious Kikar Hashabbat website that she was proud for Israel and the IDF for her son’s appointment.
“Of course, I would have preferred that he be a rabbi, but if God wants him to be Chief of Staff, so it should be,” Esther, said. “We are a family of rabbis,” the Tiberias resident told the news site.
Some analysts were surprised at Eisenkot getting the nod by the PM, due to statements he’s made in the past implying that Israel should take a less militarily aggressive stance towards Iran’s race to build a nuclear weapon,
Israel should not attack Tehran “unless the sword is at our throat,” he said, Israel’s Ch. 10 News noted on Friday.
However, Eisenkot, is also a staunch defender of what has come to be termed the “Dahyiha Doctrine,” towards the Iranian-backed Shiite Hezbollah, last implemented during the 2006 conflict with the terrorist group, in which IDF jets and heavy artillery leveled much of the organization’s headquarters in Beirut’s southern Dahyiha quarter.
“What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on,” Eisenkot cautioned. “There would be no mercy shown when it comes to hitting the national infrastructure of a state that, in practice, is controlled by terrorist organization Hezbollah,” he warned.