Nitzan Alon
Nitzan AlonIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Brig. Gen. Nitzan Alon was appointed Head of IDF Central Command Thursday in a ceremony at the General Staff Bureau at the Kiryah Base in Tel Aviv.

Participating in the ceremony were Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, members of the General Staff and family members.

Maj. Gen. Gantz replaces Maj. Gen Avi Mizrachi, who served as Central Command chief for three years and is expected to go on leave for studies in the U.S.

Barak paid tribute to Mizrachi and said: "Avi, you brought tremendous experience with you and you left a mark on the Command, on the military units and on their readiness for war, as well as on the complicated tapestry of the region."

Addressing Maj. Gen. Alon, Barak said: "Nitzan, you enter a more complicated reality, which you have experienced for the last two years and today you are taking overall responsibility for it. I want to wish you much success."

Lt. Gen. Gantz thanked Mizrachi for his "good sense, stamina and operational readiness." Gantz also congratulated the new Central Command head and said that his rich experience in operations and command positions will help him carry out the complex task.

Mizrachi said that the position of Central Command Head is "the most challenging, complex and difficult position I have held in the course of my service. I am happy about the opportunity I received, to take part in shaping the future of the State of Israel."

Alon thanked Barak and Gantz. "I am grateful for the trust in appointing me to the position and will make every effort to deserve it," he said.

As head of the Judea and Samaria Regiment, Alon managed to convince Jewish residents of the region that he is hostile to them. His appointment was criticized by nationalist leaders.

Video of the ceremony (in Hebrew) appears below. The child in uniform is presumably not the IDF's first child paratrooper, but the son of one of the attending officers, dressed up for Purim.