JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel Defense Forces Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi announced the appointment of Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz as deputy chief of staff.
General Gantz, who will replace outgoing deputy chief Maj. Gen. Dan Harel, has been serving as Israeli defense attaché in Washington.
Prior to his appointment in Washington, Gantz has served as commander of IDF Ground Forces and head of the Northern Command. He also served as commander of the IAF's Special Forces, the Paratrooper Regiment, and as head of the Lebanon Liaison Unit during the IDF pullout from southern Lebanon in May 2000.
Gantz was appointed commander of the Judea and Samaria Division just before the outbreak of the second intifada in the fall of 2000.
Gantz, who holds two masters degrees, was promoted to the rank of major general in 2001.
Ashkenazi is hoping that Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eisencott, head of the Northern Command; Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, head of the Southern Command; and Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, chief of Military Intelligence, will all remain in their current commands.
But Galant said earlier he would retire from the IDF if he was not appointed deputy chief of staff.
According to some analysts, Askenazi wanted Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eisencott as his deputy, while Defense Minister Ehud Barak favored Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, but they both agreed on General Gantz.
In a joint announcement issued by the defense minister and chief of staff, Gantz, Eisencott and Galant were named the three leading candidates to replace Ashkenazi in 18 months when his tenure ends.