The 23rd Chief of the Staff (COS) of the Israel Defense Forces has until now served as deputy to outgoing Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi, whose own 4-year term is nearing completion.
By Erin Viner
Major General Herzl (Herzi) Halevi was officially nominated by Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz on Sunday.
Halevi, who also formerly headed the IDF Southern Command and the elite Sayeret Matkal special forces unit, was chosen due to his proven track record as a commander in the field and at the General Staff. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and business, and a graduate degree from the National Defense University in Washington.
“The decision was made following a thorough assessment process conducted over the period of several months,” said a statement from the Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMoD). Minister Gantz conducted consultations on the matter with former Ministers of Defense, Gen. Kochavi and previous COS.
Halevi’s selection is still subject to official approval, first by a committee that oversees all senior appointments led by retired Supreme Court Justice and former Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, followed by a final vote by the government.
“Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi is a worthy and natural choice,” said Prime Minister Yair Lapid, with whom Gantz also consulted ahead of the appointment.” Herzi is an outstanding and talented officer with considerable experience” who will no doubt “lead the IDF to many significant achievements,” added the Premier.
The new IDF Chief is a married 54-year-old Jerusalem native, and father of four. His father was a member of the pre-State Irgun (also known by its Hebrew acronym “Etzel”) paramilitary group that fought in the Israel’s War of Independence led by later-Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and his mother is the niece of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, respected as one of the founders of religious Zionism. Halevi was named in honor of his uncle, who fell during the battle for Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War.