IDF chief undergoes surgery to remove cancerous tumor
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IDF chief undergoes surgery to remove cancerous tumor

Doctors found growth in Gadi Eisenkot’s prostate 2 months ago; deputy Yair Golan assumes post of acting chief of staff

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot at a ceremony in Jerusalem, on March 25, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot at a ceremony in Jerusalem, on March 25, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Doctors surgically removed a cancerous growth from IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot’s prostate on Thursday, after finding the tumor late last year, the army said.

While Eisenkot, 56, remains incapacitated, his deputy, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, will serve as acting head of the military. Eisenkot is expected to return to the army by the beginning of February.

Eisenkot entered Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva for his treatment on Thursday afternoon. He will be hospitalized for the next few days, before being released to complete his recuperation at home, the army said.

The prostatectomy appears to have been a success. “The chief of staff is now in the process of recovery,” the IDF said, in a statement.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, shakes hands with IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan at a ceremony for outstanding soldiers on Israel's 68th Independence Day celebrations, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, May 12, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, shakes hands with IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan at a ceremony for outstanding soldiers on Israel’s 68th Independence Day celebrations, at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, May 12, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wished Eisenkot a speedy recovery, telling him, “the IDF is waiting for you. The State of Israel is waiting for you.”

The army initially refused to divulge the nature of Eisenkot’s condition, citing his right to privacy, but following the operation, the army revealed that he had a form of prostate cancer.

The tumor was discovered by his doctor two months ago, but had not affected his ability to serve, an IDF source said.

On Wednesday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced he had decided to extend Eisenkot’s tenure as head of the IDF for a fourth year, pending final approval from the government.

The position of IDF chief of staff is a three-year position, though it can be extended by one or, on rare occasions, two years.

Newly appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman alongside IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot during a ceremony welcoming him to the Defense Ministry, May 31, 2016. (Ariel Harmoni/Ministry of Defense)
Newly appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman alongside IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot during a ceremony welcoming him to the Defense Ministry, May 31, 2016. (Ariel Harmoni/Ministry of Defense)

The cabinet will vote on Eisenkot’s extended tenure on January 29, according to Liberman’s office.

Eisenkot became chief of staff in February 2015, taking over for retiring Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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