Herzi Halevi sworn in as 23rd IDF chief: “Israel’s crucial task is resolving Iran issue”

Herzi Halevy, 55, said at the ceremony inducting him as the IDF’s 23rd chief of staff: “During 75 years of independence, we have climbed out of being a nation surrounded by enemies to one able itself to encircle those enemies thanks to our strength and advanced resources.”

Halevi was elevated to Lieutenant General at a handover ceremony from Aviv Kohavi on Monday, Jan.16 at the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem, in which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Galant and Gen. Khohavi also officiated.

Referring to the “various emerging threats calling for resolution,” Halevi cited Iran first but also Israel’s northern border, the Gaza Strip and the challenges of terrorist unrest in Judea and Samaria. We will deal [with them all] “by bringing to bear our security advantage, deterrence, advanced resources and exceptional fitness. We do what we say we can do and more than we say,” he said.

Like Kohavi, Halevi is committed to providing combat units with the finest military high-tech. He stressed in his debut speech his plans for high quality recruitment “from all strata of the population, to strengthen the reserve army and to maintain a united, focused, moral and professional IDF, free from any consideration.”

Halevi, married to Sharon and father of four, came from the post of Deputy Chief of Staff after serving as head of the Paratroops Brigade, AMAN (Army Intelligence), and OC Southern Command and years spent r in active combat. Halevi holds bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and business administration from the Hebrew University and a master’s degree in national resource management from the US National Defense University. He grew up in an observant Jerusalem family descended from distinguished rabbis on his father’s side and exiles from the Spanish inquisition who reached Jerusalem 25 generations ago, on his mother’s.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, used his speech to slam the Iranian regime. “Iran is responsible for 90pm of the problems in the Middle East. This regime threatens to destroy us. We will not wait for a sharp sword to be placed on our necks.” Netanyahu said. “We will not be dragged into unnecessary wars, but on the decisive day, we will fight,” Netanyahu added.

DEBKAfile: The new military chief’s pledge for Israel’s military to lead the battle against a nuclear Iran is a repetition of similar promises voiced for more than a decade by one Israeli government leader and general after another. Iran meanwhile marches forward with its plans and has grown into a nuclear-threshold nation capable of making a bomb in less than two months.

At home, Netanyahu is under heavy fire for awarding the finance minister, the far-right Bezalel Smotrich, a ministerial post in the defense ministry with jurisdiction in Judea and Samaria, and allowing the super-nationalist Public Security Minister Itamar Ben-Dvir take command of the Police Border Units which operate together with the IDF to combat terrorism in that territory.

These appointments amount to the transfer of key security powers from the military and defense ministry to civilian politicians. Whereas the new commander in chief offered a veiled hint at the controversy swirling around the new government, incoming Defense Minister Yoav Galant used the handover ceremony to plainly lay out his take.

“Between authority and responsibility in the military, there is one fundamental concept: the unity of command,” Galant stressed. For each soldier and officer, there is one commander, and above them all is the chief of staff, the highest command in the army, subordinate to the defense minister and subject to the government,” Gallant made a promise: “By virtue of my position and as required by the law, I will act so that the chief of staff, Herzi Halevi, can fulfill his responsibilities. Meanwhile, I will make sure that external pressures — political, legal, and others — will stop with me and not reach the gates of the IDF,” he added.

All the same, the new commander in chief may find that his first battle is a domestic war ranging him against any civilian takeover, alongside his former brothers-at-arms, the defense minister and the ministry’s director general Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email