Herzi Halevi becomes 23rd IDF chief of staff

In a swearing-in ceremony, Halevi was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general, officially taking over from Aviv Kochavi.

By JNS

Israel Defense Forces Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi on Monday became Israel’s 23rd chief of staff and the first religiously observant head of the military.

In a swearing-in ceremony attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Galant, Halevi was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general, officially taking over from Aviv Kochavi.

“Only someone who has served as IDF chief of staff knows the responsibility that the chief of staff bears,” said Netanyahu at the event. “Our assumption that everything is already in place here, that everything is certain and complete—this is not the case. At the end of the day, we live here thanks to the IDF, without which there is no existence.”

Halevi had been serving as the IDF’s deputy chief of staff and previously headed the military’s Southern Command and Military Intelligence Directorate. He also commanded the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal) during the Second Intifada.

Later on Monday, Halevi visited the National Memorial Hall for Israel’s Fallen located adjacent to the Mount Herzl military cemetery, and then the Western Wall.

He also met with President Isaac Herzog before heading to Tel Aviv for another ceremony at IDF headquarters.

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“This is an opportunity to wish you success from the bottom of my heart, Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi. You have come to your role with immense experience and many skills. I wish you success with all my heart. Your success and the IDF’s success are the State of Israel’s success,” the president said.

“I thank you, dear Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, for having made the value of mamlakhtiyut one of the IDF’s core values. And I am pleased to thank you, Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi, for saying and underscoring that the IDF must be beyond all politics.

“The IDF is beyond any political arguments. The IDF is essential to the State of Israel. The IDF is the basis of Israel’s security.”

A father of four, Halevi was born in Jerusalem and currently lives in Kfar HaOranim, which is under the jurisdiction of the Binyamin Regional Council. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and business administration from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a master’s degree in resource management from the National Defense University in the U.S.

Halevi was named after his uncle, who died in the 1967 Six-Day War.

For his part, Kochavi on Sunday held a final meeting with Netanyahu to discuss the major operational challenges facing the country.

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Netanyahu thanked Kochavi for his more than 40 years of service in the IDF and his significant contribution to the security of the state.

World Israel News contributed to this report.