Defense Officials: Eizenkot Will Not Retire From IDF

Statements contradict widespread reports that Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot planned on retiring after rejecting offer to serve as deputy IDF chief.

Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot will not retire from the Israel Defense Forces at this point in time, security officials said on Monday, contradicting reports that Eizenkot planned on retiring after refusing an offer to serve as deputy IDF chief.

After Defense Minister Ehud Barak informed the government last week of his decision to appoint Yoav Galant chief of staff, both men tried hard to persuade Eizenkot to remain in active service.

GOC Northern Command Gadi Eizenkot 30/08/10 Tomer Appelbaum
Tomer Appelbaum

Barak and Galant both felt that tapping Eizenkot, who is one of the IDF's most experienced commanders, as deputy chief of staff would restore a semblance of stability to the army's high command, which is expected to undergo a significant reshuffle when Galant takes office.

Eizenkot rejected Barak's offer, which resulted in a wave of reports that he would retire from the IDF when Galant takes up his role as chief of staff. Security officials now say that those reports are false.

Among the generals expected to leave once Galant takes up his post are the current deputy chief of staff, Benny Gantz - who, like Eizenkot, was a candidate to succeed IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi - and Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin.

Yadlin has set his sights on the post of Mossad chief. He is known to be held in high regard by both Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Relations between Galant and Eizenkot, which grew increasingly tense as both men vied for the chief of staff position, hit an all-time low when news of the so-called Galant document broke.

Ashkenazi showed the document - a purported plan to promote Galant's candidacy through smear tactics, which police have since determined to be a forgery - to both Eizenkot and Gantz, and all three were convinced the paper was an authentic plan to improve Galant's chances of winning the job by driving another wedge between Barak and Ashkenazi.

But despite the poor relations between the two men, Galant reached out to Eizenkot by offering him the deputy's slot. Several other current and retired defense establishment officials also urged the GOC Northern Command to take up the post. But Eizenkot turned it down.

However, he did say he would remain as GOC Northern Command for as long as required, and it is possible that Barak and Galant will ask him to stay on for the time being.