Defense Minister Benny Gantz has appointed Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, a former paratrooper and long-time frontrunner to lead the Israeli military is the IDF’s next chief of staff. Halevi (54) is scheduled to start in January.
“He is the most suitable officer in terms of the rich operational experience he has in a variety of areas, as well as in his command abilities and approach to various military issues, which he has demonstrated throughout his years of service,” Gantz said.
During many rounds of conflict between Israel and terrorists in the Gaza Strip in 2018 and 2019, Halevi led the Southern Command and the Military Intelligence Directorate.
He most recently served as the IDF’s deputy chief of staff, a critical position on the way to the top.
The appointment was deemed contentious because it occurred during an election campaign, and caretaker governments have usually avoided filling high positions.
However, Gantz stated that Israel’s security situation demanded clarity about personnel changes in the IDF, and Attorney-General Baharav-Miara agreed, enabling the selection process to proceed.
Halevi will succeed popular Lt. General Aviv Kochavi, whose term ends in January.
Prime Minister Yisrael Lapid praised Halevi’s nomination, calling it “worthy and natural.”
“Herzi is an excellent commander who is rich in experience and skill. “I’m sure he’ll lead the IDF to many significant accomplishments,” Lapid said on Twitter.
Gantz remarked that his decision was difficult because the other officers were equally talented and experienced. Eyal Zamir, a second candidate, previously served as deputy chief of staff and is currently a research fellow in Washington.
Halevi grew up in a pious Zionist family.
His father is a great-nephew of the first chief rabbi, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook. He was named after his uncle, who died in the Six Day War battle for Jerusalem.
He attended the Himmelfarb school in Bayit Vegan and joined the IDF in 1985, becoming a paratrooper like his uncle.
He joined the elite Sayeret Matkal reconnaissance organization in 2001 after finishing an officer training school and leading a squadron.
Despite his military training and combat experience, Halevi chose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and business administration from Hebrew University and a master’s degree in national resource management from the National Defense University in the United States.
He is married and the father of four children, and he lives in the Binyamin district, just south of Modi’in Illit (Kiryat Sefer).