Gantz seeks to extend IDF chief’s tenure by a year amid ‘regional challenges’

Pending approval from government, Aviv Kohavi to remain in his position until January 2023; defense minister praises his leadership in recent Gaza conflict

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi (L) and Defense Minister Benny Gantz (R). (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Minister)
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi (L) and Defense Minister Benny Gantz (R). (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Minister)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz decided on Thursday to extend Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi’s tenure as head of the Israel Defense Forces for an additional, fourth year, pending final approval from the government.

Gantz notified Kohavi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit that he will bring the move for cabinet approval in the coming weeks.

The position of IDF chief of staff is a three-year post, though it can be extended by one or, on rare occasions, two years. Most army chiefs serve for four years.

Kohavi “is a pillar of command and operational stability. Extending his tenure at this time of regional changes, and challenges from a variety of arenas, is critical to Israel’s security,” Gantz said in a statement.

Kohavi entered his position in January 2019, taking over from Gadi Eisenkot.

The move to extend his tenure comes just one week after fighting between Israel and the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip ended. Gantz lauded Kohavi’s leadership during the recent combat in Gaza and other “operational activities” elsewhere of late.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF chief Aviv Kohavi at an Israel Air Force command center as the IAF bombs Hamas’s Gaza tunnel network overnight Thursday-Friday May 13-14, 2021 (Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Kohavi addressed the nation shortly after the ceasefire took effect last Friday, asserting that the 11-day operation ended with “very different” results to previous flare-ups, and that Hamas “made a severe and grave mistake by firing at Israel.”

Gantz praised Kohavi’s work over the past two years, specifically surrounding the multi-year Momentum Plan, a general framework under which the IDF builds up its arsenals and trains its troops in order to confront the threats it expects to face in the coming years.

The guiding principle for the plan, which was developed under Kohavi, is that a future war must be won as quickly as possible, requiring the military to be able to constantly have at the ready a concrete list of targets, the weapons and equipment needed to strike them, and the ability to do so rapidly.

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