Appointments committee approves Eisenkot to head IDF
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Appointments committee approves Eisenkot to head IDF

Government expected to authorize the selection of the 21st army chief of staff next week

Gadi Eisenkot attends a Memorial Day ceremony in May 2014. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)
Gadi Eisenkot attends a Memorial Day ceremony in May 2014. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

The Turkel Committee on Wednesday approved Maj. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot to become the 21st IDF Chief of the General Staff, bringing the candidate another step closer to commanding Israel’s defense forces.

Eisenkot had presented himself the day before to the committee, which is charged with reviewing high appointments to office in Israel and is led by former Supreme Court Judge Jacob Turkel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon both gave Turkel their reasons for wanting Eisenkot to lead the IDF.

The Turkel Committee had already vetted Eisenkot when he was selected for his current post as deputy chief of staff.

With the forum’s approval under his belt, Eisenkot is expected to be approved for the position by the government during the upcoming cabinet meeting on Sunday.

An infantryman from the Golani Brigade who stood out during the Second Lebanon War for his sober reading of the situation, Eisenkot was notified that he had been given the post by Netanyahu at the end of November. He is set to take up the job on February 15, succeeding Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz.

Eisenkot’s deputy will be Yair Golan, the general who formerly headed the IDF’s Northern Command.

IDF Northern Commander Yair Golan (photo credit: IDF/FLASH90)
IDF Northern Commander Yair Golan (photo credit: IDF/FLASH90)

Eisenkot — who in 2011 insisted that the army’s top spot be given first to his predecessor, Gantz — will take up the post as Israel grapples with a new wave of Palestinian terrorism, which saw five Israelis killed in an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue last month, and tensions on several of its borders and across the region.

The son of a copper miner, Eisenkot was born in Tiberias and raised in Eilat. He met his wife, Hannah, at a public sailing club in the port city when both were in high school, and is now a father of five.

In November 1978, he enlisted in the Golani Brigade’s 51st Battalion, where he was eventually given the command of a platoon. Nonetheless, he never saw himself as an army lifer. “Every year I thought I’d stop but then I signed on for one more year and with the years that accumulated to 33 years in uniform,” he told the local Eilat weekly Erev Erev in 2011.

After serving as a company commander during the Lebanon War and climbing up the ladder, he was appointed commander of the Golani Brigade in 1997, stepping into the shoes of his legendary predecessor, Erez Gerstein, who was later killed in Lebanon.

Unlike some of his predecessors, he never served in a special unit and carries no classified commendations for valor. Over the years, though, he made a name for himself as a cool-headed, fair, and insightful officer and commander.

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