Benny Gantz

Israel's Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz pauses while speaking at AIPAC in Washington, U.S., March 25, 2019

Benny Gantz, the Israel Defense Forces’ 20th chief of general staff, is the founder and current head of the Hosen L’Yisrael, or Israel Resilience, party.

Gantz was born in 1959 in Kfar Ahim, a moshav in south-central Israel. He was drafted into the Israeli military in 1977, where he served in the Paratroopers Brigade. In 1979, Gantz graduated Bahad 1, the military’s Officers School, and returned to the Paratroopers Brigade, where he served as a platoon, company, and battalion commander.

Gantz went on to occupy several commanding posts, including of the Israel Air Force’s elite Shaldag unit, the Paratroopers brigade, the Judea and Samaria Division and of the Northern Command.

During his service, Gantz obtained a Bachelor’s degree in History from Tel Aviv University, a Master’s degree in Political Science from University of Haifa, and a second Master’s degree in National Resources Management from the National Defense University in the United States.

Gantz was named the IDF chief of general staff in 2011, replacing Gabi Ashkenazi, a post in which he served until 2015. During his tenure, Gantz promoted Orna Barbivai to major-general, making her the first woman in the military’s general staff. During his term Gantz also commanded the military during the 2014 Gaza war.

Since retiring from the military, Gantz co-founded a social movement called Pnima.

In 2018, Gantz announced that he would run in the Knesset general election, establishing Hosen L’Yisrael. In his first and only public remarks, Gantz criticized the controversial Nation-State Law, vowing to amend it to emphasize equality and the special connection between Israel and its Druze minority.