Major-General Dan Harel on Monday replaced Major-General Moshe Kaplinsky as the deputy IDF chief of staff.
His swearing-in ceremony took place on Monday after it was postponed by several weeks due to the tension on the Israel-
Harel, 52, who was Southern Command chief during the disengagement,
recently served as the IDF's attaché in Washington.
Harel was the first soldier from the IDF's artillery corps to make it to the rank of major-general. He had planned to retire from the IDF after completing his role in Washington, but decided to accept the role of deputy IDF chief of staff.
Barak, Kaplinsky, Ashkenazi and Harel at swearing-in ceremony
One of the issues the new deputy IDF chief will be responsible for is the security budget.
Kaplinsky, the outgoing deputy army chief, is expected to leave Israel for period of studies abroad, and is later expected to accept a senior position in the defense establishment.
According to estimates, Kaplinsky will compete for the role of chief of staff after the end of Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi's term.
Praising his outgoing deputy, Ahskenazi
said, "I don’t think that there was one IDF security incident in more than 30 years of service that Kaplinsky was not present at."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak
said during the ceremony that "Kaplinsky brought a lot of talent and experience to all the systems he served in both as a fighter and a commander, along with an exceptional personality."
Right-wing organizations on Monday slammed Harel's appointment as deputy IDF chief.
"The people who led the disengagement in the military echelon, as well as the political echelon, are unworthy of leading the IDF at such complex times. I doubt it if soldiers could follow such a commander with their eyes shut. In such a situation, I would walk in front of him rather than behind him," said Lior Kalfa, chairman of the Gush Katif Settlers Council.
"With all my respect to the political echelon's responsibility, his responsibility is just as big – both in terms of the IDF's conduct toward the residents and in terms of the security reality created in the Gaza vicinity communities," he told Ynet.
Members of the Jewish National Front, headed by extreme right-wing activist Baruch Marzel, sent an open letter to IDF Chief of Staff Ashkenazi, saying that "there is no doubt that in the past year the IDF took steps to regain the trust of the orange public (the Gaza evacuees) in the IDF, in an effort to reunite.
"Unfortunately, however, Dan Harel's appointment takes the army back and the rifts remain. Maj-Gen Harel's appointment as your deputy rings warning bells in the faces of those who care about the Land of Israel," the organization members added in a letter which was also distributed across the West Bank.
Pinchas Wallerstein, head of the Binyamin Regional Council, said in response to the appointment, "I must admit that I have mixed and even difficult feelings, seeing the person who commanded the expulsion of Jews from their home being promoted to the role of deputy chief of staff. The person who commanded the uprooting cannot serve in such a senior role at this time."
Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe of SOS Israel joined the critics, saying that "it is astounding that an army interested in drawing lessons from the failure of the disengagement and the Lebanon war appoints a commander who was responsible for the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif and is to blame for the collapse of the army.
"His appointment will only lead to severe damages and will continue the social split in the Israeli public. Dan Harel will pay a heavy price for the damages he caused to the people of Israel, and he must remember that all the disengagement criminals were punished."
Efrat Weiss contributed to this report