Benny Gantz named IDF chief after Galant dropped

By Jennifer Lipman, February 7, 2011
Benny Gantz

Benny Gantz

Benjamin Netanyahu has finally named a new chief of staff for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

The Israeli Prime Minister said Benny Gantz would take charge of the IDF, provided the nomination by Defence Minister Ehud Barak is accepted by the cabinet.

Mr Gantz, a paratroop commander, will become the 20th person to serve as Israel’s top military commander.

Mr Netanyahu said: “He is an experienced commander and an excellent officer. He has all the qualities and all the necessary experience to be an excellent IDF chief of staff.”

The decision follows a scandal over the original choice for the role, Yoav Galant.

Last week Mr Netanyahu announced that Mr Galant’s appointment would be overturned, after it was found that the intended chief of staff had lied about having construction rights for a home extension.

Me Netanyahu expressed his appreciation for Mr Galant, describing him as “a seasoned fighter” who had contributed greatly to Israel’s security.

He said: “I understand the depth of his disappointment.

"But in the circumstances that have been created, my duty as Prime Minister is to make clear decisions in order to lift the cloud of uncertainty from the IDF senior command.

"The stability of the IDF is always important, but it is much more important now given the deep shocks in our region.”

Israel’s President Shimon Peres paid tribute to Mr Gantz’s predecessor, Gabi Ashkenazi, who is leaving the post after four years.

He said: "He created a glorious generation of young commanders. [He was] one of the best IDF chiefs of staff Israel has ever known."

Last updated: 6:07pm, February 7 2011