Amir Eshel Appointed as Next Israel Air Force Chief

Defense Minister Ehud Barak approves IDF chief's decision to name Eshel as next IAF commander, despite Netanyahu's preference for his military secretary, Yohanan Locker.

Major-General Amir Eshel, head of strategic planning for the armed forces, was named Sunday as the next chief of the Israel Air Force.

According to a statement by the Israel Defense Forces spokesman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday accepted the decision by IDF chief Benny Gantz to appoint Eshel, 52, to the post. He will be replacing Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan.

Nir Kafri

Eshel, who was reported to be Gantz's pick for the post, won out over Brig.-Gen. Yohanan Locker, who is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's military secretary and was the prime minister's preference. The lack of agreement between Netanyahu and Gantz had delayed the appointment.

Recently, Amir Eshel had voiced concerns over a nuclear-armed Iran, saying it could deter Israel from going to war against Tehran's guerilla allies in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

Eshel echoed Israeli government leaders who argue that Iran, which denies wrongdoing but rejects international censure over its secretive projects, could create a "global nuclear jungle" and fuel arms races in an already volatile Middle East.

Eshel made clear that Israel - widely reputed to have the region's only atomic arsenal - worries that Syria and Lebanon's Hezbollah militia as well as Palestinian Hamas Islamists who rule Gaza could one day find reassurance in an Iranian bomb.

Read this article in Hebrew