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New IDF chief of staff promises Israeli military will be free of politics

New IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevy visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Jan. 16, 2022. (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Israeli Defense Forces’ new chief of the general staff, Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi, was installed in his role in a series of ceremonies on Monday. 

In a speech at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, Halevi made a commitment to direct the IDF to focus only on security-related matters.

“We will protect the unified IDF as focused on expertise, professionalism and values, and free from any consideration that is not security-related,” Halevi said. 

This might be a reference to attempts by members of the governing coalition to insert themselves into military affairs, especially with regard to the territories of Judea and Samaria. 

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also spoke at the ceremony, explicitly mentioning the issue of confusion created by political interference in the operations of the IDF. 

“Between authority and responsibility in the military, there is one fundamental concept: the unity of command. 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 said. 

He went on to 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.” 

"I will make sure that external pressures – political, legal and others – will stop at me and not reach the gates of the IDF,” the defense minister said. 

In his speech, Halevi spoke mostly about Israel’s external security threats. 

“In the 75 years of our independence, we have turned from a country surrounded by enemies to a country that has the upper hand, with its power and advanced capabilities. But many different threats are still developing around us,” Halevi said. 

The new chief of staff said that Israel’s answer to these threats would be its competence and determination.

“Our answer to [these] threats is our security advantage, in deterrence, advanced capabilities and high competence. Let our enemies know: What we say we also know how to carry out, and we are willing to carry out much more than what we say,” Halevi said. 

As part of the ceremony, Halevi was awarded the rank of lieutenant general, the highest rank in the Israeli military. 

Former IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi was present at the ceremony to officially hand over control of the military to Halevi. Gallant and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented Kochavi with a gift in honor of his four years of service as chief of staff and marking the end of his 40-year military career. 

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

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