Gadi Eizenkot becomes 21st IDF Chief of Staff


Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot will today officially succeed Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz as IDF Chief of Staff, with Gantz completing his four-year term.

54-year-old Eizenkot currently serves as Deputy Chief of Staff to Gantz and is reportedly thought of by his colleagues as a level-headed military thinker. Born in Tiberias, Eizenkot was then raised in Israel’s southernmost city Eilat. He joined the Golani infantry brigade in 1978 and is a married father of five.

His military career has seen Eizenkot serve as a company commander during the Lebanon War in 1982 before becoming commander of the Golani Brigade in 1997. Two years later he was appointed as the military attaché to then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak before heading the Judea and Samaria Brigade. By 2006, Eizenkot was Head of Northern Command and was regarded as a cautionary voice within the General Staff during the Second Lebanon War that year. Although some, including Barak as Defence Minister, suggested that Eizenkot should be appointed Chief of Staff four years ago, Eizenkot himself recommended that Gantz be appointed as IDF commander.

At a ceremony in Jerusalem today, Eizenkot will be promoted to Lt. Gen. by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon, prior to a visit to the Western Wall and an official reception at the residence of President Reuven Rivlin. Eizenkot will oversee his first General Staff meeting in Tel Aviv this evening.

The changing of the guard at the head of the IDF is covered prominently in this morning’s Israeli dailies, with Maariv’s front page headline proclaiming: “Thank you Benny, good luck Gadi.” In the same edition, Alon Ben-David describes Eizenkot as intelligent, level-headed and “the last person who will make light of the use of force and of unnecessarily putting his soldiers at risk.” In Yediot Ahronot, Alex Fishman assesses the significant challenges ahead, commenting “Eizenkot is starting a particularly difficult shift today. He does not even have a minute of grace, let alone 100 days of grace.”