New IDF chief: First Orthodox Jew chosen for position, ‘most suitable officer’

Gantz “came to the decision that Halevi is the most suitable officer” for the position, the Ministry of Defense stated. 

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

Major General Herzl (Herzi) Halevi will serve as the IDF’s 23rd Chief of Staff, replacing Aviv Kochavi at the end of the year, Minister of Defense Benny Gantz announced Sunday.

During the coming week, Gantz will forward Halevi’s name to the advisory committee for appointments to senior positions in the civil service headed by Supreme Court judge (ret.) Manny Mazuz and, subject to its approval, bring the appointment to the government’s approval.

Gantz announced his decision to Prime Minister Yair Lapid and current Chief of Staff Major General Kochavi.

Gantz chose Halevi “following a thorough assessment process conducted over the period of several months,” which included consultation with many senior officials, including former prime ministers, defense ministers, and chiefs of staff in the past, as well as the current Chief of Staff.

Major General Eyal Zamir was the other final candidate.

Gantz “came to the decision that Halevi is the most suitable officer in terms of the rich operational experience he has in a variety of arenas of action, as well as in terms of his command abilities and his approach to various military issues, which he has proven throughout his years of service in the field and at headquarters,” the Ministry of Defense stated.

Gantz also spoke with Zamir and told him that he “considers him an excellent, worthy and quality candidate for the position of Chief of Staff as well as for other senior positions in the defense establishment, and he thanked him for his respectful approach and his great contribution to Israel’s security in his decades of service so far.”

Halevi previously served as commander of the Southern Command, chief of the Military Intelligence Directorate, commander of the 91st Division, commander of the Paratroopers Brigade, and commander of the elite Sayeret Matkal.

Halevi studied in the Himelfarb religious high school in Jerusalem and was a member of the religious scouts. He is the first Orthodox Jew to serve as chief of staff.