Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot was sworn in as the 21st chief of staff of the IDF on Monday, replacing Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, who completed his IDF duty after 37 years of military service, at a ceremony held at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem.
Members of the Israeli establishment were in attendence Monday, among them Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and even opposition politician Tzipi Livni.
In his parting words, Gantz thanked the members of the General Staff, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon. "I received the IDF as a deposit for years ago, to serve it and preserve it," said Gantz. "We defended our borders well. We fit a response to each setting and we promised preparedness for any scenario at all times. We operated with the strength that was necessary and our preparedness proved itself over and over again in various situations."
Gantz turned to his successor and said: "I hand over to you, Gadi my friend, this deposit, which is strong and powerful."
"Today, when you, the 21st Chief of Staff of the State of Israel, receive this guard of honor, know that behind it stands a professional, trained, flexible army that is ready for its mission," said Gantz to Eisenkot.
Gantz ended his parting speech with a recommendation, "Gadi, you are and you will continue to be a part of my journey in the IDF – it is also your journey. From here, take it where ever you choose. Change, touch, imprint your signature with your typical love for this army and with the responsibility demanded for the IDF, the nation and the land. Blessed is the nation with you standing at the front of its defense forces. Blessed are those who respond to your call of 'follow me,' always confident and always worthy."
"Benny, during your years in the IDF, Israel's security was before your eyes," said Eisenkot to Gantz. "You operating with responsibility that deserves praise in every position you held and operating with uncompromising faith in our cause. Thank you for your partnership and for the way you led the IDF."
Eisenkot continued, "We are in the midst of a stressful period with many challenges. The Middle East is changing its face beyond recognition and is characterized by explosiveness and insecurity.
The IDF, at my command, will place its preparedness, its operational ability and robustness as its priority so that we will be able to operate the necessary force and ensure the peace and security of the citizens of the State of Israel. I pledge to command the Israel Defense Forces with determination and wisdom, with reverence and utmost commitment to the security of the nation and to the peace of its citizens and residents.
The ceremony began with Eiseknot being promoted to lieutenant general, before being sworn in as head of Israel's armed forces. The new IDF chief and his predecessor then embarked on a series of events to mark the occasion, including a visit to the Western Wall.
Tiberias-born Eisenkot, 54, is married with five children and lives in Herzliya. He joined the IDF in 1978, serving in the Golani Brigade during the First Lebanon War. He was later appointed commander of the brigade and during the IDF's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 served as military secretary to then-prime minister Ehud Barak.
In 2003, at the height of the second intifada, he was appointed commander of the Judea and Samaria Division. During the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Eisenkot served as head of the General Staff Operations Directorate, and then GOC Northern Command. From there, he went on to become the deputy chief of staff.
Eisenkot holds a degree in political science from the University of Haifa and is a graduate of the United States Army War College.