The suspense had barely begun and it is already over: Defense Minister Ehud Barak has announced that Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, the Commander of the IDF’s Southern Region, will be the IDF’s next Chief of Staff.
Galant will become Israel’s 20th Chief of Staff, succeeding Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, whose term will end in February. Barak’s relationship with Ashkenazi has been rocky, and the relatively early appointment of Galant will not be comfortable for Ashkenazi.
Galant was chosen over four other candidates: Generals Benny Ganz, Gadi Eisencott, Gadi Shamni and Avi Mizrachi.
Several Israeli politicians have criticized the way in which Galant was chosen. MK Aryeh Eldad raised questions about the selection saying, "we won't be able to fully trust the next Chief of Staff, if we don't have confidence with the one who nominated him. If we don't trust Ehud Barak, then we can't trust the new Chief of Staff." Eldad said Israel needs to conduct wider hearings on the candidates for the Chief of Staff.
Galant headed the anti-terrorism Operation Cast Lead battles against Hamas nearly two years ago. He has served in the past as the Military Attache of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, head of the Gaza Formation and head of the Naval Commando Unit.
The appointment must still be approved by the Cabinet, which will vote on it next Sunday. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu explained that he wishes to give the ministers a chance to express their opinions on the appointment. Minister Moshe Ya'alon, a former Chief of Staff himself, said he is not sure why the vote need be rushed up, given the controversy of the past week surrounding the apparently-forged “Galant document.”Galant, 51, was born and raised in the Aliyah Hill neighborhood of Jaffa; his mother arrived in Israel from Europe aboard the Exodus ship. He began his IDF career in 1976 in the Naval Commando unit, where he later served as an officer. He left the army six years later, taking two years off to chop trees in Alaska. He returned to Israel in 1984 and renewed his army career, which has now culminated with his achievement of the top spot.