Major General Sami Turgeman was sworn in as IDF Southern Command head on Sunday evening, replacing outgoing commander General Tal Russo, who held the position since 2010 and is retiring from the IDF after 35 years of service.

Turgeman, 48, is a career officer who is leaving the position of Ground Forces commander to take up the new command. Brig. Gen. Guy Tzur, former head of the IDF Planning Division, will become the new Ground Forces commander.

Tal Russo, 53, decided to retire from service after a failed bid to become deputy chief of General Staff. All the appointments were approved by Minister of Defense Ehud Barak.

IDF Southern Command is responsible for guarding the Negev, Arava and Eilat areas, and is active in preventing smuggling, cross-border terror attacks, and dealing with migrants. Southern Command is also the first to deal with military necessities in relation to the Gaza Strip, and in the past was on the front lines in several wars with Egypt.