After turbulent weeks following the land grab affair involving Major-General Yoav Galant, it appears the prime minister and defense minister have managed to appoint a solid candidate for the role of IDF chief of staff. A senior IDF officer described Major-General Benny Gantz as "a man of action" who is very loyal to the army.
Netanyahu and Barak will present the appointment before the cabinet Sunday morning. Next, the Turkel Committee will review the matter. Should there be no last minute surprises the ministers will vote in favor of the appointment as early as the following week. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has already given the green light having reviewed any possible obstacles.
Having been congratulated by his peers, Gantz stressed he will not address the decision until his appointment will be approved by the Turkel Committee.
One of his army friends noted Gantz did not receive the warmest welcome when he assumed the role of deputy IDF chief of staff. He added that at the time Gantz did not appreciate such comments suggesting he was a compromise, but nevertheless "put everything aside in favor of the task at hand. Even his disappointment of not having been chosen IDF chief of staff he expressed in a reserved manner. You won't hear any statements out of him now. He'll study the material and start working."
Last November Gantz retired from the army. This will not be first time he is called back to action under unexpected circumstances.
In 2000 Gantz was appointed commander of the Judea and Samaria Division after his predecessor was forced to leave over an operational failure. Six years earlier he was called to command the Lebanon Liaison Unit after the previous commander had died. Before retiring he served in five different positions as major-general which made him the most experienced officer in the IDF.
Unlike Galant, Gantz has been described as being laid-back, maybe too laid-back. However, many officers stated he is a brilliant man who knows the army's abilities and can implement his knowledge in the best way.
"He may come off as distant but that's not him. Gantz is a very loyal person. Several years ago he wanted to be Military Intelligence commander and having not been appointed he assumed his next role in the Ground Forces. There too, despite indirect criticism regarding the Second Lebanon War, he made his voice be heard. Whoever says he cannot stand his ground is wrong," a senior IDF officer said.
His first goal as IDF chief of staff will be to redesign the IDF's five-year plan so as to decide how the army will look in the coming years. According to Gantz, the current state is characterized by three aspects: "Stability, sensitivity and explosiveness – anything can happen."
When asked, just before retiring from the IDF in November 2010, what he will take with him from his service, Gantz did not mention specific events or prestigious roles but rather an event that occurred when he was a young battalion commander in 1987, during Operation Moses bringing Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Another event he mentioned was his visit to the Bergen Belsen concentration camp.
"This list is typical to Benny. Modesty, lack of arrogance, no stardust. He knows the army inside and out," said an officer who has served under him.
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