ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 140

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Former deputy IDF chief Eyal Zamir takes up post as Defense Ministry director

Twice passed over for role of military chief before becoming think tank research fellow, Zamir enters position with Israel facing a surge in terrorism and threats from Iran

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Newly appointed Defense Ministry Director-General Eyal Zamir (left) with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv, on February 1, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/ Defense Ministry)
Newly appointed Defense Ministry Director-General Eyal Zamir (left) with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv, on February 1, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/ Defense Ministry)

Eyal Zamir, a former deputy chief of the military, was appointed as Wednesday as director-general of the Defense Ministry by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at a ceremony in Tel Aviv.

Zamir, 57, took over from the previous director-general, Amir Eshel, at a time when the country faces a surge in terrorism and threats from Iran.

He most recently served as the Israel Defense Forces deputy chief of staff. In 2018, he was the head of Southern Command, overseeing violent clashes along the Gaza border during protests organized by the Hamas terror group.

Zamir was considered twice to lead the IDF, in 2018 and 2022. Ultimately, however, the front-running candidates Aviv Kohavi and Herzi Halevi respectively were selected instead.

Between 2012 and 2015, Zamir was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s military secretary.

“The director-general is an important and influential role, one that drives long-term, immediate-future and current processes,” Gallant said at the ceremony, held at the Kirya military headquarters.

From left to right: New Director General of the Defense Ministry Eyal Zamir, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and former director general Amir Eshel in Tel Aviv on February 1, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

“Israel’s defense establishment operates and will continue to operate in the face of threats both near and far — the most imminent being the Iranian threat. It is imperative that we continue building our capabilities while encouraging creativity and innovation in our working processes,” the minister said.

Gallant also highlighted the military’s role in nation-building, working with youth, the disabled, and bereaved families.

Thanking Gallant for the appointment, Zamir vowed that “all those who threaten us will be met with an iron wall — a robust and secure defense establishment.”

Eshel said he looked forward to witnessing Zamir’s achievements and reminded him of the privilege of the job he was about to undertake.

“Throughout the last two and half years, we implemented plans led by my predecessors whose far-sighted wisdom paved the way for us, in addition to laying the foundations for our own plans such as the implementation of the Abraham Accords… thus strengthening Israel’s strategic position and the IDF’s strength,” the outgoing director-general said.

A husband and father of three, Zamir graduated from the IDF Command and Staff College and holds a master’s degree in political sciences from the University of Haifa.

Zamir was born in the southern city of Eilat and started his service in the Armored Corps. He now lives in the central city of Hod Hasharon.

Then-IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot (L), then-outgoing Southern Command chief Eyal Zamir (C), and his successor Herzl Halevi in Beersheba on June 6, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

After completing the tank officer’s training course, Zamir rose through the ranks and went on to command the 7th Armored Brigade in 2003 and the 36th Armored Division in 2009.

Before taking up the role of Netanyahu’s military secretary, Zamir served as commander of the Israeli Ground Forces. After leaving the premier’s service, he was appointed as commander of the IDF Southern Command in 2015.

Between 2018 and 2021, he served as deputy chief of staff, his final role in the army before heading to the United States to become a visiting research fellow at the Washington Institute think tank.

In a lengthy report before ending his post there, Zamir warned that Iran had managed to establish a significant foothold in Syria, and candidly advocated for more assassinations of Iranian military officials to curb such efforts.

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