Gadi Eizenkott will replace IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz in February, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon announced Saturday night, with the blessing of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Eizenkott, now Gantz’s deputy, took over the Northern Command after his predecessor quit in 2006 after sharp criticism of his conduct in the 34-day Second Lebanon War that summer, a war which was arguably one of the most embarrassing for Israel in terms of the military’s lack of preparation, poor intelligence, logistic fiascos and loss of life.
Eizenkott has restored some dignity to the IDF following the Second Lebanon War and is backs a policy to show “no mercy shown when it comes to hitting the national infrastructure of a state that, in practice, is controlled by terrorist organization Hezbollah.”
After an 18-month leave of absence to serve as a researcher in an Israeli think tank, Eizenkott returned to the army as Gantz’s deputy in 2013.
“Maj.-Gen. Eizenkott has been chosen from an excellent group of major generals to lead the IDF in the face of the complex security challenges facing the State of Israel. On behalf of the citizens of Israel, I wish him success,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said.
That would seem be a given, but given the recent years of the IDF commanders anxious to please the Obama administration, it is a “revolution” to think that that enemies should be killed and not “engaged.”
Eizenkott is not considered trigger-happy and will not send soldiers into war unless diplomacy does not work, Yediot Acharonot observed. But when the army has to hit, it will do it the way it should.
He enlisted in the Golani unit, which has produced many of IDF Chiefs of Staff.
Reserve Maj.-Gen. Ilan Biran, who worked alongside Eizenkott and was his senior commander, told Yediot, “After the Oslo Accords, as the GOC Central Command, I was looking for a brigade commander who knew how to handle a complicated and complex area – on the one hand there were the settlers and on the other hand militant cities like Tulkarem and Kalkilya. Eizenkott showed qualities of a model brigade commander, he showed common sense, restraint, unusual responsibility and creativity. He managed to avoid unnecessary conflicts and controlled these cities successfully in what was an extremely delicate task.”
In the recent Protect Edge operation against Hamas this past summer, Eizenkott favored a policy of not trying to destroy Hamas or take over Gaza.
He is known not to be afraid to say what he thinks, a rarity among recent senior military leaders.
The hope is that the Peter Principle will not change him when he takes over from Gantz and that he will continue to be homiest, tough and modest, characteristics sorely lacking in the top military echelon where commanders often worry more about being politically correct rather than protecting the country.