IDF spokesperson Moti Almoz received the new rank of major general at a ceremony in the military’s Tel Aviv headquarters on Thursday afternoon, the army said, as a right-wing group fought to block his promotion.
Last month, Almoz was nominated to take over as head of the army’s Manpower Directorate when the previous commander, Maj. Gen. Hagai Topolanski, stepped down after a military computer was stolen from his home.
Topolanski attended the ceremony along with Defense minister Avigdor Liberman and IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot.
The outgoing general, leaving the army after a 33-year career, praised the IDF as a “wellspring” and a “foundation stone of the State of Israel.”
Eisenkot thanked Topolanski for his decades of service and lauded the general as a “paragon.” The army chief welcomed Almoz into his position, saying he was “the right man in the right place at the right time.”
In his speech, Almoz said he looked forward to confronting the “issues of the day and the challenges of tomorrow” as a new member of the IDF’s high command.
Almoz will serve as both head of the Manpower Directorate and as IDF spokesperson until a replacement for the latter position can be found.
But one right-wing, religious organization, the Movement for a Jewish Nation, is hoping to halt the process. On Sunday, the group filed a petition with the High Court of Justice to prevent Almoz’s appointment.
The group took issue with how Almoz handled the Elor Azaria “Hebron shooting” case, saying the spokesperson cast Azaria as guilty before his trial began.
“From Brig. Gen. Almoz’s conduct as IDF spokesperson you can see a disregard for the rule of law, for the accused’s presumption of innocence, for the purity of the judicial process, for the honor of the IDF that trusted him as its spokesperson, for the feelings of religious civilians and soldiers, and for the IDF’s standing orders,” attorney Ziv Ma’or wrote in the group’s petition to the High Court.
In November, the High Court froze the appointment of IDF Chief Rabbi Eyal Karim, after the left-wing Meretz party filed an appeal in light of controversial remarks made by Karim that were perceived as condoning rape of non-Jewish women during wartime and keeping women out of the military.
In a written statement to the court on, Karim apologized for the statements and to those who were offended by them.
“I made a mistake when I gave a short answer to a complicated question,” he wrote. “I was wrong because sometimes I was not precise with my words and some people found them offensive. I apologize.”
Meretz and the court accepted Karim’s apology and the chief rabbi was sworn in to his position last month.