Gadi Eizenkot officially took over the command of the IDF Monday morning, replacing Benny Gantz in a routine rotation.
Lt. Gen. Eizenkot is a new image for the Israel, one of modesty that is rare in recent years among IDF generals who often are politicians more than they are military officers in their race to please the political echelon and the United States in order to climb the ladder of positions of power.
Eizenkot was a natural candidate to command the IDF several years ago, but he declined.
He is modest, but he also is tough, and as the Jewish Press reported here in November, he is different from other military commanders and is not afraid to speak his mind, even if his thoughts are not politically correct.
He took over the Northern Command after his predecessor quit in 2006 after suffering 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.
Concerning Hezbollah, Eizenkot has said he 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.”
On the other hand, Eizenkot is not considered trigger-happy and will not send soldiers into war unless diplomacy does not work, Yediot Acharonot observed when he was nominated for the new post late last year.
But when the army has to hit, it will do it the way it should.
Gantz said in his farewell speech Monday, “You have behind you a professional army, trained, flexible, and prepared for all tasks. Gadi,…take the army in the direction you choose….Praised is the people for whom you command their armed forces. Praised are those who answer “follow me” in carrying out commands.
Eizenkot, 54, lives in Herzliya, next to Tel Aviv. He is married and has five children.