Netanyahu Tells Incoming IDF Chief: Next Four Years Will Be Worse

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Maj. Gen. Gazi Eisenkot assumes the position of IDF chief of staff.Credit: Chaim Tzach / GPO

Israel's army on Monday got a new top commander, as Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot assumed the position of the 21st chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces. 

Eisenkot was promoted from major-general to lieutenant-general in a ceremony at the Prime Minister's Office. Eisenkot is replacing Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, who served four years in the post. Gantz has yet to say what he will do after he leaves the military.

Speaking at the ceremony, Netanyahu warned Eisenkot that his term will be tougher than that of his predecessor.

"I promise you Gadi you will not have a single day of grace. The Middle East is disintegrating. States are collapsing. An empire is charging into this vacuum – Iran.

"It aspires to acquire nuclear weapons. It is trying to encircle us with four murderous arms. Three, for now – one in Lebanon, one in Gaza and a new one – on the Golan. It vows openly to destroy the State of Israel in one way or another. Joining it are the forces of extremist Islam who are breaking through every crack in the Middle East and bringing their murderous acts to the entire world."

"... The next four years will be no less difficult. To my assessment, they will be even tougher. We will require every tool, every person, because there's no mercy for the weak in the Middle East. Only the strong ones survive. The IDF is strong in spirit, and certainly in might."

Eisenkot, too, acknowledged the challenges ahead as he accepted the promotion. He vowed to make "preparedness and moral strength" top priorities during his term.

"We will aspire to deter the enemy, to ward off war, to threaten and be victorious. I promise to command the Israel Defense Forces with determination and wisdom. I promise to continue in the fulfillment of the vision of the founders of our country. To continue to carry the torch of security that passes from generation to generation," said Eisenkot.

After the ceremony, Gantz and Eisenkot were expected to go to the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, where they were to hold a joint prayer. Later in the day another official ceremony will be held at the President's Residence in Jerusalem with President Reuven Rivlin. Eisenkot will then go to the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv for another ceremony and reception, and start his new job. The entire General Staff will then meet, headed by the new chief of staff. 

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