JERUSALEM – The Israeli Cabinet on Sunday unanimously approved the appointment of a former infantry general as the new army chief of staff, with the mission of rebuilding confidence in the military after last year’s war in Lebanon.
Gabi Ashkenazi, who was director general of the Defense Ministry, will take over from Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, who resigned last month in the fallout from the war. Halutz, a former air force chief, was criticized as not having enough experience in leading ground forces.
Ashkenazi, a former deputy chief of staff, has a wealth of infantry experience.
He fought as an infantryman in the 1973 Mideast War, took part in
Israel’s hostage rescue in Entebbe, Uganda, in 1976 and commanded major operations in the first Lebanon war in 1982 before overseeing the withdrawal of Israeli forces in 2000. He quit the army in 2002 after losing out on the top job to Halutz.
Olmert praised Ashkenazi ahead of the Cabinet vote.
“Gabi is an admired commander and leader with a most impressive record and history,” he said. “I have no doubt that he will lead the (army) in dealing with all it needs to deal with, in reaching its capabilities and in achieving what is needed for the security of Israel.”