Army fills key posts amid fears of uptick in violence

IDF names a new OC Central Command and a new head of the Home Front Command

Mitch Ginsburg is the former Times of Israel military correspondent.

A General Staff changing of the guard on March 24, 2015, from right: Chief of the IDF General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot; incoming head of the Home Front Command, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strik; outgoing Home Front Command head Maj. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg; Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon; outgoing OC Central Command, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon; incoming OC Central Command, Maj. Gen. Roni Numa (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
A General Staff changing of the guard on March 24, 2015, from right: Chief of the IDF General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot; incoming head of the Home Front Command, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strik; outgoing Home Front Command head Maj. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg; Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon; outgoing OC Central Command, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon; incoming OC Central Command, Maj. Gen. Roni Numa (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

Amid fears of a sudden rise in violence in the West Bank and ongoing instability along the northeastern border where Hezbollah continues to try to entrench its forces along the Golan Heights, the army on Tuesday appointed a new OC Central Command and a new head of the Home Front Command.

Outgoing head of the IDF Central Command, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, after six straight years in command posts in the West Bank – including as the commander of the Judea and Samaria Division  — will continue in the army as the head of the Operations Directorate in the General Staff.

He congratulated his replacement, Maj. Gen. Roni Numa, and wished him luck, and underscored the current feeling in the army that the Palestinians in the West Bank are nearing the boiling point. He said that over the past several years the army has taken great pains to prevent the tension from developing into instability, but added that, “to my mind, it’s getting increasingly more difficult and more complex, and therefore a large part of our efforts of late are directed toward the preservation of stability and preparedness for escalation that could come.”

An unnamed officer told the army magazine Bamahane earlier this week that “the Palestinian front has, without a doubt, the highest potential of explosiveness,” and added that the army is avoiding clashes with Palestinian protesters and unnecessary casualties, easing traffic restrictions for West Bank drivers, removing certain roadblocks, and granting more entry permits to Palestinians into Israel, “in order not to lose the hold on the area.”

Maj. Gen. Yoel Strik receiving the two-star general rank of Maj. Gen. from Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, right, and Strik's wife (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Maj. Gen. Yoel Strik receiving the two-star general rank of Maj. Gen. from Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, right, and Strik’s wife (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Numa, the new commanding officer, served as commander of the IDF Depth Corps since June 2014. The decision to appoint Numa, rather than Maj. Gen. Noam Tibon who is leaving the Geneal Staff, was the first major move by the army’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, and was taken despite Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s reported preference, initially, for Tibon.

Numa has served as the commander of the Air Force’s elite Shaldag unit and as the commander of the undercover unit, Duvdevan. In 2001, as a battalion commander in the Paratrooper Brigade, he was embroiled in a legal case in the wake of the killing of Abdullah Jaraousha outside Tulkarm in the northern West Bank, but was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.

“Roni, you are the right man in the right place,” Eisenkot told him at the changing of the guard ceremony.

In another major personnel move, Yoel Strik, a former commander of the IDF officers’ school and of the Galilee Division, was promoted to two-star general rank and given command of the Home Front Command, replacing Maj. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg, who had served in the post since 2011 and will retire from service in the coming days.

Once a backwater position given to officers on their way out of service, the Home Front Command, in charge of coordinating and if necessary implementing all civilian safety measures in the event of a national emergency, has become a central post as Israel’s enemies have directed much of their offensive effort against Israeli civilians.

The civilian sector, Strik said, has become “the second and perhaps even the main sector” that the IDF will be asked to deal with in the coming years. “While the [military] decision will be reached at the front, the morale of the citizens and their strength, as part of the national fortitude in a time of war,” is squarely in the hands of the Home Front Command, he said.

Most Popular
read more: