IDF appoints new intel chief, promotes 4 other generals, despite far-right opposition

Brig. Gen. Shlomi Binder will replace Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, who resigned over October 7 failures; two division commanders who fought in Gaza are given promotions

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

File: Brig. Gen. Shlomi Binder in 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)
File: Brig. Gen. Shlomi Binder in 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday announced the promotion of five generals as part of a series of appointments in the General Staff — a forum of senior commanders responsible for the various branches and departments of the military — including the next head of intelligence.

The appointments made by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, following a “lengthy process,” were made despite opposition by some lawmakers, who have contended that the military should not make such changes amid the war, and that they shouldn’t be decided upon by the military leadership that failed to prevent Hamas’s October 7 massacre.

The appointment considered the most significant and controversial was for the next head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, after the current top intel officer, Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, announced his resignation last month over his role in the October 7 failures.

Brig. Gen. Shlomi Binder, who currently serves as head of the Operations Division — under the Operations Directorate — was to replace Haliva. Binder previously commanded the 91st “Galilee” Regional Division in northern Israel.

Critics, especially lawmakers from the right, have argued that as Halevi had failed in his role in the October 7 attack, he should not be the one to appoint commanders.

They have also said that senior officers should not be promoted until the military finishes probing its failures that led to the Hamas attack, as some generals may have been involved in the missteps.

File: Commander of the IDF Military Intelligence Aharon Haliva at a conference of the Gazit Institute in Tel Aviv, November 4, 2022. (Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)

Brig. Gen. Avi Blot, currently serving as the head of the Command and Staff College, would be appointed as the next chief of the Central Command — charged with the West Bank area — replacing Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, who decided to end his 36-year-long military career.

Fox, like many Central Command heads before him, repeatedly came under fire by some settler groups for what they felt was insufficient action against security threats or egregious action against illegal Jewish settlements.

Blot previously commanded the Central Command’s West Bank division and is an observant Jew, making him a favorable choice for the role in the eyes of some.

Brig. Gen. Avi Blot, commander of the IDF’s West Bank division, is seen at the unit’s operational headquarters during a major operation in the city of Jenin, early July 3, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Brig. Gen. Dan Goldfus, who currently commands the 98th Division, would be appointed as the next head of the Northern Corps and Multi-Domain Joint Maneuver Array, a relatively junior role in the General Staff Forum.

Goldfus led his division during four months of fighting in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis amid the ongoing war against Hamas. In March, Goldfus received a “severe reprimand” by Halevi for off-script remarks directed at Israel’s political leaders during a press conference, although this did not affect his promotion.

Before the war, Goldfus had been tapped to serve as the next head of the Operations Division — Binder’s current role — and the latest appointment, to the head of the Northern Corps and Maneuver Array, is a more significant promotion.

The commander of the 98th Division, Brig. Gen. Dan Goldfus, speaks to the press from the Gaza border, March 13, 2024. (Emanuel Fabian/Times of Israel)

Brig. Gen. Dado Bar Kalifa, the commander of the 36th Division, would be appointed as head of the Personnel Directorate.

Bar Kalifa also led his division during months of fighting against Hamas, in the central and northern Gaza Strip.

File: Brig. Gen. Dado Bar Kalifa, the commander of the 36th Division in the central Gaza Strip during the war, in a handout photo issued May 2, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Brig. Gen. Aviad Dagan, a senior Israeli Air Force officer, would be appointed as the next head of the Computer Service Directorate.

Dagan previously headed the directorate’s digital transformation division, as well as the Hatzerim Airbase, and amid the Gaza war, has served as a navigator in the IAF’s 201st Squadron.

The IDF said the nominated officers would all be promoted to the rank of major general in the coming months before they enter their roles “gradually.”

The officers chosen for the top roles were “commanders who stood out in combat in the field and at headquarters,” the military said.

File: Brig. Gen. Aviad Dagan in a handout photo issued May 2, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Following the IDF’s announcement, far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to fire Gallant.

Gallant was one of those responsible for the government’s mistaken security conception prior to October 7, Ben Gvir contended in a post on social media, arguing that he “does not have a mandate to approve the appointments of generals and design the next general staff of the IDF.”

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich also slammed the appointments, saying in a video statement that “regardless of the identity of the officers, the appointments of IDF major generals who will lead the correction of the army after the failures, cannot be made by the chief of staff whose name is signed on the military failures.”

“It’s not legitimate. That’s not how things are fixed. This is not how trust is restored,” he said.

According to a report by the Kan public broadcaster, Netanyahu was updated on the nominations just shortly before the announcement.

Earlier Thursday, Diaspora Minister Amichai Chikli and two other Likud lawmakers wrote to Gallant to express opposition to the recent round of senior appointments within the IDF.

The General Staff, “which besides impressive achievements in the war bears direct responsibility for the security failure of October 7,” cannot involve itself in promoting senior officials, Chikli, alongside MKs Moshe Saada and Dan Illouz, wrote, adding that “some of the appointments that have come up concern senior officers whose degree of responsibility for the events of October 7 is still unknown.”

Still, Halevi has avoided appointing new commanders to roles considered sensitive and related to ongoing internal probes into the IDF’s failures in the lead-up to the October 7 attack, aside from the new intel chief.

Sam Sokol contributed to this report.

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