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Israel Appoints Herzi Halevi as New Military Chief

A former military intelligence chief, Halevi was serving as deputy to his predecessor, Aviv Kohavi

Major General Herzi Halevi was appointed Israel’s new military chief of staff Monday, in a ceremony hosted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We will prepare the army for war on fronts near and far,” Halevi vowed at the ceremony, at the start of his three-year term.

A former military intelligence chief, Halevi was serving as deputy to his predecessor, Aviv Kohavi, until taking the helm.

Netanyahu said Israel will not get dragged into “pointless wars, but on decisive days we will fight.”

The appointment of Halevi, who led forces along the Gaza border, comes as violence surges in the occupied West Bank.

The army operates alongside other Israeli forces in the Palestinian territory, which has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.

Halevi’s nomination as Israel’s 23rd army chief has been criticised by some members of Netanyahu’s government, because it was made by the former defence minister Benny Gantz shortly before elections last year.

Gantz’s successor, Yoav Gallant, attended Monday’s ceremony at the premier’s office in Jerusalem.

The new military chief was born in 1967 to a religious Jewish family in Jerusalem and enlisted as a paratrooper in 1985.

He advanced in various command positions before joining the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit in 1993, according to the army.

Halevi served as commander of Sayeret Matkal for three years from 2001, and then continued to climb the ranks.

He became head of military intelligence in 2014 and head of the southern command in 2018, the army said.

Married with four children, Halevi lives in Kfar Haoranim, which is partially a settlement in the West Bank.

Thirteen Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the start of this year, the majority shot dead by Israeli forces.

© Agence France-Presse