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Meet Israel’s new defense minister, Yoav Gallant

Incoming Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant at the handover event in Tel Aviv, Jan. 1, 2023. (Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The son of a Holocaust survivor who arrived in Israel on the S.S. Exodus in 1948, 64-year-old Yoav Gallant is the new defense minister in the recently installed government of Benjamin Netanyahu. 

While Gallant’s mother, Fruma, was enduring the horrors of the Holocaust, his father, Michael, served as a partisan fighter in Ukraine and Belarus, before moving to the land of Israel in 1948, where he served in the Givati Brigade during Israel’s War of Independence. Michael also participated in Operation Yoav to liberate the Negev and later named his son after the operation.

Gallant served in the elite Shayetet 13 naval unit for six years. After taking time off and working in Alaska as a lumberjack, he returned to the Israeli military, eventually becoming commander of a combat company for the same naval unit. 

Gallant’s political career began in 2015, when he joined the new Kulanu party. After joining the Knesset, he was appointed minister of construction and housing. At the end of 2018, he joined Netanyahu’s Likud party and held the posts of minister of aliyah and integration, and minister of education. 

Gallant was highly critical of the recently negotiated maritime agreement with Lebanon, which conferred ownership of certain maritime territory to Israel’s northern neighbor, claiming, “We surrendered to Hezbollah – this was literal extortion.” 

The new defense minister was specifically critical of the [Yair] Lapid government’s handling of the issue. 

“I think that this is undemocratic, irresponsible and cowardly behavior on the part of Lapid and the government,” he said at the time. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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