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Government Approves Herzi Halevi as Next Military Chief of Staff

avatar by i24 News

Lieutenant-General Aviv Kochavi, chief of staff of the Israeli armed forces, looks on as he delivers a statement in Tel Aviv, Israel, November 12, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Corinna Kern

i24 NewsIsrael’s government on Sunday approved Major General Herzi Halevi as the military’s 23rd chief of staff.

Following the announcement, the Israeli military’s (IDF) current Chief of Staff Major General Aviv Kochavi congratulated Halevi.

“I welcome the government’s approval of the appointment of General Herzi Halevi as the 23rd Chief of Staff of the IDF. Herzi and I have known each other for many years, during which I got to know a brave, professional and talented officer. Herzi is an excellent and experienced officer and I am sure that he will continue to lead the IDF forward, given the expected challenges. I wish him great success,” Kochavi said, according to an official statement.

Last week, a vetting committee approved Halevi’s candidacy, paving the way for him to take up the post early next year. Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz proposed his appointment in early September.

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Born in 1967 into a religious family in Jerusalem, Halevi graduated with a degree in philosophy and business from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and holds a Master’s degree in human resources management from the National Defense University in Washington, the Israeli army said.

“Should we expect a major shift in policy? Not really,” says Jonathan Regev, Defense Correspondent for i24NEWS. “Just like his predecessor, Halevi comes from the ranks of the paratroopers and supports the current school of thought, surgical strikes from the air and artillery if possible instead of a ground maneuver.”

Halevi joined the Israeli army in 1985 in a paratroopers unit before being promoted to “Sayeret Matkal,” the army’s elite unit, which he led for years. In 2014 he was appointed as head of military intelligence, and four years later was named as head of the southern command.

“But even if the school of thought remains the same, reality is changing,” Regev continued.

“Kochavi took over as the army chief just a few months after the US pulled out of the nuclear deal, and the expectations were for the Iranian economy to collapse. Four years later, Iran did not collapse, the nuclear program progressed and Tehran’s ties with Russia grew stronger due to its support to the war in Ukraine. If Kochavi thought there is time before Israel should act in Iran, Halevi may find that time is running out.”

“Kochavi also took office with a relative quiet West Bank and a somewhat functioning Palestinian Authority. In late 2022, the West Bank is boiling and in many parts of the West Bank the Palestinian Authority is nowhere to be seen,” he continued, referring to rising tensions in the West Bank, exacerbated by near-nightly Israeli raids.

“All this means there are no 100 days of grace for Halevi, actually not even one day of grace. His term promises to be challenging as enters one of the toughest positions in this neighborhood.”

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