IDF Appoints New Air Force Commander

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel as the new air force commander.

Eshel, 53, who replaces outgoing IAF commander Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan, will play a crucial role if Israel decides on a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, who reportedly favored Eshel's appointment, submitted his decision to Barak, who approved it.

Born in Jaffa in 1959, Eshel was drafted into the air force in 1977, completing combat pilot training in 1979.

Over his 33-year military career, he has commanded seven different squadrons. He also served as head of the Operations Branch of the air force staff.

Prior to his appointment as air force commander, Eshel headed up the IDF's Planning Directorate.

Two weeks ago, he reportedly expressed concern publicly that a nuclear-armed Iran could limit Israel's deterrence against the Islamic Republic's proxies: Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Eshel received his bachelor's degree from Auburn University in Alabama and his master's degree in political science from Haifa University's National Security College.

He and his wife, Abigail, have three children, Inbar, Yoav and Ori.

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